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Accession No. 

This book should lie returned, on or before the date 

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last marked bekv. 




Congreve's The Way of the World. 

(Karnatak Publishing House, Bombay. Rs. ///2.) 

Dryden's Absalom and Acbitophel 

(Karnatak Publishing House, Bombay. Rs. 1/8.) 


" . . . . the exceedingly good edition of Dryden's famous poem, 
Absalom and Achitophel, edited by Dr. K. R. Srinivasa lyengar, with 
a biographical and critical introduction and comprehensive, elucida- 
tive notes. The same learned scholar has edited, for the same series, 
Congreve's masterpiece, The Way of the Wo Id ; this edition is 
marked by all the apparatus which was characteristic of Professor 
lyengar's earlier work, the edition of Dryden's famous satire." 

The Hittdusthan Renew. 

" You have done a great service in publishing these works in 
such a nice form.*' 

Prof. H. C. PAPWORTH, I.E.S. (Retired), 
Trarattforc Umrers/ty. 

"Your edition of Congreve's The Way of the World . It 
is indeed a very fine edition with an illuminating Introduction and 
lucid notes and very helpful appendices. Every page of its contents 
reveals your scholarship and industry." 

Prof. T. M. ADVANI, 
Dean of the Faculty of Art*, D. f. Sind College, Karachi. 

" 1 have read the Introduction with much pleasure and have 
found the notes very helpful. It is good to see such admirable 
editions being published in this country." 

Vice -Chancellor, Allahabad University. 

# * < 

" Dryden may be a ' flawed ' poet, but your edition of his 

masterpiece is very nearly flawless. It is sure to be welcomed by 
students everywhere." 

Presidency College. Madras. 

" I find it excellent in every way. Its contents and get-up make 
it as good as any English edition of the poem." 

Principal, Loyola College, Madras 

" I am not flattering \ou, I find the edition ver> gw>d." 

Benares Hindu I J niversity. 

" Your critical edition . has made me go through it with 
great pleasure and interest, after mam years, thanks to your critical 
apparatus and elucidative notes." 


Vice-Chancellor, Patna University* 

"The well-known Restoration comedy is here edited for the 
student with appreciation and discernment by an eminently qualified 

The Indian P. /:. N. 


Sri Aurobindo 

Raja Lakhamagauda : A Memoir 
Life of S. Srinivasa lyengar 


Lyton Strachey : A Critical Study 
Indo- Anglian Literature 
Literature & Authorship in India 
On Beauty 


(with S. S. Basawanal) 
Musings of Basava 
A Handbook of Indian Administra- 


Gerard Manley Hopkins 
Shakespearian Tragedy 
Uses of Literature 

Edited by 

Congreve's The Way of the World 

Coleridge's Christabel 

Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel 







M.A., O.Litt. 

yice-Prhtcipifl & Professor of English 

Basat'eshrar College, Bagalkot 

University of Bombay 



October 1945 

Printed hv B. Ci. DHUVAII, at tht Karnatak Piintinn Pr< -, (,'hir.i Iia7.ii,. 

Hoinhav 2 and published In him at th<- Karnatak Publishing Ilou^*, 

Shr'r SjtTiarth Sadan, Kmham Hall J.anc, (Jir^afn, lV>rnh.iv 4 





admiration & affection 


In December 1940 I was awarded a grant-in-aid by the 
University of Bombay to enable me to make a study of the 
contribution of Indians to English literature. Already, in Octo- 
ber 1969, I had completed for the P. E, N. All-India 
Centre a brochure giving a rapid survey of Indo- 
Anglian literature, although the actual publication 
of the brochure had to be delayed till 1943. The 
University grar# helped me to study the subject in some 
detail. I made the first draft of the present book in October- 
November 1942 ; a year later, in the light of suggestions from 
two esteemed friends, Sir B^manji Wadia and Principal K. M. 
Khadye, I enlarged some of the later chapters and omitted 
references to many minor writers. Although the final typescript 
was ready for the press in December 1943, the publication of 
the book has had to be delayed so long owing to many un- 
foreseen difficulties. It has thus been not possible for me to 
comment on the literature produced during the last two years : 
even so, I added a word or two wherever possible when I had 
the opportunity of passing the galley proofs. Further, the 
Postscript, reproduced from the All-India Weekly Annual, seeks 
to redress the balance by surveying the work done in 1944. 

I prefer the term " Indo-Anglian " to " Anglo-Indian " or 
" Indo-English ". The late Principal P. Seshadri included, not 
only Sir Edwin Arnold and Trego Webb, but also Tagore 
and Sarojini Naidu, in his brief survey of " Anglo-Indian 
Poetry"; and Mr. George Sampson, in his Concise Cambridge 
History of English Literature, gives a section to " Anglo-Indian 
Literature" and refers in it, among others, to Tagore, Man- 
mohan Ghose and Sri Aurobindo. But I thought it desirable 


to distinguish between Englishmen who write on Indian themes 
and Indians who use English as the medium of artistic expres- 
sion ; and I saw no harm in applying the already current terms 
" Anglo-Indian " and " Ind'o-Anglian " to these two categories 
of wrjtqrs. I do not know who first coined the term " Indo- 
Anglj^n/'; at any rate, in 1883 a book was published in 
Calcutta entitled Indo-Anglian Literature containing " specimen 
-cornp<})sitions from native students ". More recently, especially 
during the past two decades, " Indo-Anglian " has acquired 
considerable currency. Further the term can be conveniently 
used both as an adjective and as a noun, whereas to write 
" Indo-English writer " every time is awkward and to talk 
of " Indp-Englishman " or " Anglo-Indian " is absurd or mis- 

, I have given the term " literature " a wider connotation 
than is usually done by referring in the course of my book to 
the work, not only of poets and dramatists and novelists, but 
^Iso that of critics, historians, philosophers, jurists, journalists, 
orators, etc. The right of these " pseudo-literary men " to a 
place any place whatever in a survey of literature may be 
disputed by some of my readers. Let us, however, guard our- 
selves against being betrayed into false or Judicrous positions. 
What is literature ? If we like, we can deny the title to 
history and science but how about Gibbon and Hume and 
Darwin ? jSir Arthur Quiller-Couch would go further and say 
that Euclid himself is among the world's greatest men of 
letters. If we start excluding "applied literature'*, there is 
no knowing where we will stop ; all prose will have to go sooner 
or later, and then all objective poetry will be sent tumbling 
after ; and we shall end by admiring only a few supremely 
poetical lines or phrases, containing as it were the pure gold, 
the quintessence, of literature. On the other hand, as Sir Walter 
Raleigh once pointed out, it is wise to choose among the many 


definitions of poetry (and let us add, of literature) the widest. 
This is. the reason why the Cambridge historians of English 
literature have given so much space in their volumes to a con- 
sideration of English historians, theologians, philosophers, 
scientists, jurists, etc. No doubt, creative literature poetry, 
drama, fiction ought to dominate the prospect in literary histo- 
ries ; but I see no reason, except the one engendered by literary 
snobbishness, why " applied literature " should be at all " un- 
touchable" by the literary historians. Let us by all means 
rate things at their true worth ; there can be good histories 
as well as bad histories just as there can be good poems 
and novels as wjell as bad specimens of these genres ; but there 
is no need to introduce a sort of caste system in the realm of 
letters as- well. 

No survey of a living literature can give entire satisfaction 
to everybody. Readers ever come across unaccountable omis- 
sions and even more unaccountable inclusions. One of the 
well-known histories of English poetry omits all reference to 
Langland ; another gives more space to Dryden than to Milton ; 
some others refer to third-rate Englishmen and Canadians, but 
shut their eyes resolutely to American literature. Perhaps, a 
literary history ought to be in principle a wholly objective 
and scientific record ; but the subjective element is too potent 
to be kept outf and it cannot but modify the narrative to 
a greater or a lesser extent. For one thing, mine being in 
effect a pioneering work, many writers were bound to escape 
my notice ; for another, the space at my disposal was strictly 
limited and I had to endeavour to write a readable book rather 
than an exhaustive directory of names and dates and titles. 
My "Select Bibliography " is a half-hearted attempt to rectify 
the omissions in the text itself. I am afraid that this " Select 
Bibliography " is not quite as satisfactory as it might h^ve 
been. I have not been able in several instances to give the 


dates of publication or have had to satisfy myself with approxi- 
mate indications. The paucity of accessible data Jiampered 
my work at every stage ; and with" the heavy routine work 
of lecturing to students and examining note-books and answer- 
scripts that is the lot of all professors, it has not been possible 
for me to make my book and especially the Bibliography- 
more comprehensive than it is. I hope none the less that 
the book will meet a long-felt want and introduce the Indian 
and foreign reader to the creditable contribution that the 
Indians have made to English literature. And I trust that 
some other historian, more happily circumstanced than I am, 
will very soon complete and perfect the picture. 

Some reviewers of my earlier book questioned the pro- 
priety of my classing Rabindranath Tagore as an Indo-Anglian. 
Tagore is without question primarily a Bengali classic ; but 
he has also a legitimate place in Indo-Anglian literature. Surely 
we cannot have it both ways : the complaint is often heard 
that Tagore's works are not (or are not more frequently) 
included in the curricula of English studies in our schools 
and colleges ; if Tagore can thus be an English classic in the 
class room, he can certainly be so treated in a literary history. 
The Authorized Version of the Bible is but a translation and 
yet, it is an English classic. Why then should there be an 
objection to the inclusion of Tagore in a survey of IndoAnglian 
literature? It is admitted that Tagore wrote works like 
Sadhana and Personality and even an occasional poem like Tht 
Child in English alone in the first instance ; several of his other 
works, although originally written in Bengali, were Englished 
by Tagore himself, while the other translations were published 
under his general supervision. In these circumstances, there 
were three ways of dealing with Tagore : ( 1 ) one could jusl 
refer to Tagore by name as a prose writer along with Radha- 
krishnan, Brajendranath Seal, and others ; (2) one could men- 


tion him as the competent translator of his own Bengali works, 
and leave the matter there ; (3) one could accept the fact of 
his pre-eminence as a Bengali classic, and at the same time 
assess his general significance with reference to Indo-Anglian 
literature, either on the score of achievement or influence. The 
third seemed to me the most satisfactory way of tackling the 
great phenomenon of Rabindranath Tagore. 

A similar objection may be raised to my discussing 
Mahatma Gandhi's My Experiments with Truth as an Indo- 
Anglian classic. Gandhiji is among the great masters of English 
prose and he should have been referred to anyhow in a survey 
of Indo-Anglian literature ; but his autobiography was origi- 
nally written in* Gujarati though it was later, with Gandhiji's 
tull approval. Englished beautifully by the late Mahadeo Desai 
and revised conscientiously by the Rt. Hon. V. S. Srinivasa 
Sastri. Should I have omitted all reference to it and consi- 
dered merely Gandhiji's weekly contributions to Young India 
and Harijaw ? My difficulty here is similar to the difficulty 
that faces a historian of English literature in regard to Sir 
Thomas More. Willy nilly every historian refers to More's 
Utopifr and often describes it in considerable detail although 
it was originally written in Latin and rendered into English 
long afterwards, and that too neither by More himself nor 
yet with his approval. More's specifically English writings 
generally of a polemical character are but casually mentioned, 
or not mentioned at all. It is all very illogical and unscientific, 
but a literary historian has to be guided by his common sense 
and he has to deal with human beings, not with abstract pre- 
mises or lifeless substances. If I have erred in including an 
appreciation of My Experiments with Truth in my book, I 
am at least in very good and very honourable company. 

Parts of this book have already appeared in the columns 
of periodicals either as articles or as reviews. The chapter 


on Tagore originally appeared in the Visvabharati Quarterly ; 
that on Aurobindo Ghose in the New Review ; the chapters on 
Nagesh Wishwanath Pai and Goan Poetry in the Scholar; 
those on Derozio and Malabari in the Indian P. E. N.; the 
sections on Manmohan, Dongerkery, Bharati Sarabhai, Noltni 
Kanta Gupta, Shahid Suhrawardy, D. F. Karaka and Mulk 
Raj Anand in the Social Welfare under the general caption 
"The Crystal Vase"; those on K. D. Sethna and Adi K. Sett 
in the All-India Weekly; and stray paragraphs originally ap- 
peared as reviews in the Aryan Path. These individual 
appraisements, written journalistically in the first instance, have 
since been revised, enlarged or abridged before their incorpora- 
tion into this book. Even so I must plead guifty to the charge 
that I have not been able to maintain throughout a rigid 
sense of proportion in the space allowed to individual writers. 
In some instances for example, in discussing the poetry of 
Nagesh Wishwanath Pai I have deliberately given more space 
than I need have in view of the fact that the authors consi- 
dered are at present very little known and their books are out of 
print and are almost impossible to obtain. I count as my 
personal friends; quite a good number of the writers whose work 
I have commented upon in this book. I have nevertheless 
striven to be fair and unbiassed in my assessments of all the 
writers who come within the scope of this literary history. After 
all, a literary history is not it cannot be a sustained piece 
of creative criticism. Some sections are bound to dwindle into 
catalogues ; others are likely to be made up of unenthusiastic 
summaries of books that have not evoked a positive response 
from the historian ; but now and then one may also come 
across a body of sound and weighty criticism. Omniscience 
is denied to an average literary historian, and he is not seldom 
obliged to dole out second-hand or third-hand information. 
And yet, if the man is honest, if he genuinely loves literature 


and if he is generous in his sympathies, he will somehow be 
able to produce a readable enough book and a reliable enough 
guide. But I dare not claim that I have succeeded in produc- 
ing either the one or the other. 

Before I conclude, I have the pleasant duty of recording 
my gratitude to the University of Bombay for making a grant- 
in-aid towards the cost of publication of this work ; to the 
many friends who willingly loaned or presented their publica- 
tions to me and otherwise co-operated with me when I was 
engaged on this book ; to my friend Mr. Shankargauda Patil 
for placing at my disposal his unique collection of books ; to 
Mr. G. L. Gajendragadkar, Retired Deputy Collector, Belgaum, 
for the loan of many rare old books and magazines ; to my 
esteemed friend Prof. R. Sadasiva Aiyar for kindly drawing 
my attention to many a forgotten classic of Indo- Anglian litera- 
ture ; to my old professor, Fr. Jerome D'Souza, now Principal 
of the Madras Loyola College, and my friend, Dr. S. C. Nandi- 
math, my principal first at the Lingaraj College, Belgaum, and 
now at the Basaveshvar College, for their continued sympa- 
thetic interest in my literary labours. 

Lastly, I am especially indebted to my revered friend, 
Sir Bomanji Wadia, not only for acceding to my request for 
a Foreword to my book, but also for generously encouraging 
me in my literary work during the many years that I have 
been privileged to know him. 


15th August, 1945. 


I have been asked by Professor K. R. Srinivasa lyengar 
to write a foreword to his book, " The Indian Contribution 
to English Literature ", of which a type-written copy was sent 
to me in advance. The author calls such contributions " Indo- 
Anglian Literature", but, frankly speaking, that expression is 
not a very happy one. Moreover, all that is written by Indians 
in the English language cannot be called " literature ". The 
book is nevertheless comprehensive, and as far as I am aware 
there is no other survey so wide and detailed as this. Poetry, 
drama, the essay, fiction, history, philosophy and biography* 
criticism and journalism have all come within its purview. 
It seems that* in point of quantity the author has, 
if anything, erred on the side of excess. What 
the book has gained in comprehensiveness it has lost 
perhaps in selection and concentration, for it includes 
writings many of which belong at their best to the 
sphere of well-cultivated mediocrity, and at their worst to 
what Schopenhauer once called " the everlasting deluge of use- 
less books." It can be safely said that only a small portion of 
the prose and verse here reviewed possesses the real qualities 
of literature, though it must also be owned that so vast a 
survey must inevitably take account of the pinchbeck as well 
as of the gold. JThe book is undoubtedly a mine of information 
which will always be useful^ and is often really pleasant. 
It starts with Raja Rammohan Roy, the prophet of the New 
India that was to come, and runs ever more than a hundred 
years down to our own time. Among the great names that 
figure in these pages we find Tagore, a realJTitan who united 
the wisdom of the ages with all the fancy of the poets and 
the wit of the world, Romesh Chunder Dutt, the translator of 
India's great epics in English verse, Aurobindo Ghose, the 
recluse of Pondicherry, Toru Dutt and her elder sister Am 


Dutt, both cut off in their prime, and Sarojini Naidu, patriot, 
politician and poetess, happily still with us. Others perhaps 
will be known to the reader after reading these pages ; they at 
any rate cannot claim to be " inheritors of unfulfilled renown ". 
But when a writer is really great, Professor lyengar riss to the 
occasion and gives us sound and weighty criticism. He is at 
his happiest when dealing with those whose names will live 
even after Time, the old ravager, has done his worst. Such 
criticism itself is literature. 

The question whether Indians should or should not writt 
in English has been ably dealt with in the last chapter entitled 
44 Prospect and Retrospect." In one sense anything written in 
English by an Indian must~to some extent* be artificial, as 
artificial as it is for a westerner writing in his own language 
about an Indian subject to give adequate expression to the rea) 
glamour of the East. But it is not impossible for an Indian 
writer to largely conquer the difficulties of writing in an alien 
tongue. In Shakespeare's time the English language was spoken 
by about four millions in the world. To-day it is spoken by 
two hundred millions, nearly twice the number of those who 
use its nearest competitor among other western languages. An 
Indian therefore writing in English certainly opens the doors of 
cultural contact between his own country and those two hundred 
millions, and such contact is highly necessary if India is not 
to remain in splendid isolation from that higher culture and 
scholarship which knows no geographical bounds in the mid^t 
of a civilized world. 

The effort of the learned author deserves every encourage- 
ment, and scholars are sure to give it a fine welcome. The 
book is replete with information about various Indian writers 
who have expressed their thoughts in a language which, as 
some enthusiasts claim, is the world's language of the future. 




PREFACE . . . i 

M.A., LL.B,, Bar-at-Law, Vice -Chancellor, 
University of Bombay . ix 


(British rule in India the Beginnings of Edu- 
cation Sir William Jones Rammohan Roy 
and the Reformers the Missionaries Macau : 
lay's " Minute " and after the birth of Indo- 
Anglian literature Rammohan's prose writings 
other pioneers.) 


(Anglo-Indian writers their influence on the 
Indo-Anglians Derozio's life his patriotism 
The Fakir of Jungheefa.} 

ill. TORU DUTT . 13 

(Michael Madusudhan Dutt- Aru Dutt Toru 
Dutt--/4 Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields- 
Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindusthan-- 
Toru's craftsmanship.) 


( Bankimchandra and after Ram Sharma 
Shiva Ratri and Bhagabati Gita Romesh 
Chunder Dutt Ramayana and Mahabharata 
in English verse.) 


(Behramji Malabari, a pioneer from Bombay 
his English verse his prose works editor and 
social reformer.) 




(Pai's life and works- Stray Sketches m Chak- 
makpore The Angel of Misfortune its story 
the characters Pai as a poet of Nature his 


(Antecedents his fecundity and versatility 
Gitanjali and the Nobel Award his longer 
poems fiction and drama -his many-sided 


(Professors and poetry Seshadri's Bilhana his 
sonnets Chettur's sonnets -The Temple Tank 
Manmohan's poems- -Songs of Love and 


(His versatility Translations mystical poems 
narrative, and dramatic poetry recent poetry 
his prose works.) 


( Backgrounds ' ' autochthonous ' ' the bird-like 
quality of her poetry Harindranath's Feast of 
Youthhis later work.) 

XI. GOAN POETRY . . . 87 

(Goan Poets Joseph Furtado Armando Mene- 
zes The Fund recent poems Manuel Rodri- 


(K. D. Sethna Anilbaran Roy Nolini Kanta 
Gupta Dilip Kumar Roy- Punjalal Viveka- 
nanda and J. Krishnamurti.) 




(A. F. Kabardar T. BaskerS. R. Dongerkery 
The Ivoiy Tower poet of faith and tradition 
Adi K. Sett.) 


(Bharati Sarabhai The Well of the People 
story and symbolism Sabita's Devi's Phantasies 
Kamala Dongerkery.) 


(B. N. Saletore S. Uma Maheswer V. N. Bhu- 
shah Humayun Kabir Baldoon Dhingra D. 
C. Datta T. B. Krishnaswami.) 


(Shahid Suhrawardy Essays in Verse An GET* 
Man's Songs Suhrawardy 's minor poems 
Manjeri S. Isvaran Is Indo-Anglian poetry a 
crime ? Isvaran's disillusion P. R. Kaikini 
his prose poems his recent poems Krishan 


(Sir Mahomed Iqbal Sir Nizamat Jung mis- 
cellaneous poets Indo-Anglian poetry, its vari- 
ety, integrity and intrinsic worth.) 


(Verse plays and prose plays paucity of good 
Indo-Anglian dramas legitimate themes the 
problem of dialogue portraiture of sophisticat- 
ed society.) 
XIX. SOME DRAMATISTS . . . . . 160 

(V. V. Srinivasa lyengar Wait for the Stroke 
and The Tragic Denouement T. P. Kailasam 
Suryadutt J. Bhatt's The Trial Celestial Fyzee- 
Rahamin's Daughter of Ind.) 




XX. EARLY FICTION ... . . . 16 

(Toru Dutt and Romesh Chunder Dutt the 
t influence of Bankimchandra's novels B. R. 
Rajam Iyer- A. Madhaviah T. Ramakrishna- - 
S. B. Bannerjee, S. K. Ghosh and S. M. Mitra 
Cornelia Sorabji Sir Jogendra Singh.) 


ANAND 177 

(K. S. Venkataramani Paper Boats and On the 
Sand -Dunes Murugan the Tiller and Kandan 
the Patriot Shanker Ram his short stories 
The Love of Dust Mulk Raj Anand The 
Coolie The Village Anand, the Laureate of 
the Downtrodden.) 


(D. F. Karaka-/Ktf FleshThere Lay the City 
Raja Rao's Kanthafrura R. K. Narayan his 
novels his short stories.) 


(Kumara Guru's Life's Shadows . Nagarajan 
Dewan Sharar A. S. P. Ayyar Dhan Gopal 
Mukerj i Conclusion . ) 


(Nagesh Wishwanath Pai S. V. V. R. Ban- 
garuswami K. Iswara Dutt Mahatma Gandhi 
Sir Nizamat Jung Sir Bomanji Wadia F. 


(Handbooks, notes,, and editions interpreta- 
tions of Indian literatures Art criticism K. 
M. Khadye, Shahid Suhrawardy and Bal S. 
Mardhekar Aurobindo Ghose Indo- Anglian 
criticism proper inherent difficulties Sir Bra- 
jendranath Seal N. K. Sidhanta Shakespearian 
Criticism Amaranath Jha Ranjee Shahani 
V. K. Ayappan Pillai Narayana ^ienon.) 




(Aurobindo Ghose --The Future Poetry Amiya 
Chakravarty -Humayun Kabir reviewers 
K. S.) 


(T. K. Shahani and V. S. Srinivasa Sastri Sir 
Rustom Masani Iswara Dutt and K. Chandra- 
sekharan Khasa Subba Rau Sachchidananda 
Sinha -Mv Experiments with Truth Ja\\ahar- 
lal Nehru's Autobiog aphy -Reminiscences and 
travel books.) 


(Early historians- Sir Jadunath Sircar K. T. 
Shah -Jawaharlal Nehru Swami Vivekananda 
B. R. Rajam Iyer Rabindranath Tagore S. 
Radhakrishnan Das Gupta, Hiriyanna and P. 
N. Srinivasachari - Aurobindo Ghose.) 


(Origins of Indian journalism Indo-Anglian 
journalism politics and journalism some lead- 
ing journals and journalism free-lances, col- 
umnists, etc. Eminent Indian Judges Sir 
Brojendra Mitter on the Indian Judges- legal 


(Orators of yesterday and the day before C. R. 
Das V. S. Srinivasa Sastri Mahatma Gandhi 
Motilal Nehru M. A. Jinnah S. Srinivasa 
lyengar C. Rajagopalachari Sarojini Naidu 
modern oratory writers on education, politics, 
economics, etc. books on Kashmir.) 




(The achievements of the Indo-Anglians the 
place of English in future IndiaIndian English 
the Indian man of letters and his present dis- 
abilitiesIndian publishersthe future a hope" 
for the future.) 

TURE, 1944 26 

(Wartime publishing in India new poetry 
Nilima Devi Cyril Modak fiction & drama 
V. S. Srinivasa Sastri's Letters Krishna 
Hutheesing's With No Regre toGandhi litera- 
turecriticismessayistsJoseph Johnserious 


(Critical surveys and anthologies poetry- 
drama fiction essays, belles-lettres and criti- 
cismhistory, biography and autobiography- 
philosophy, politics and miscellaneous prose- 



It is a strange story. The sixteenth century was truly the 
seed-time of British expansion. The Britisher, who had been 
more or less vegetating in a remote corner of the * old ' world, 
suddenly awoke one morning, incredulously rubbed his eyes, 
and found himself at the very centre of a brave new world. 
America to the west and Africa and Asia to the east these vast, 
unexplored regions seductively beckoned him from afar. And 
the adventurous countrymen of Shakespeare and Marlowe, 
of Drake and Hawkins, of Sidney and Raleigh, crossed the 
Atlantic or rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and founded little 
colonies far and near and all the way. Wherever he went, 
the Britisher took with him, not only the tools of trade and 
the implements of war, but also his language and his literature. 

The Britisher came to India when the Mughals were still 
firmly in the saddle. He hoped to trade and " get rich quick " 
in India-; he gained a footing in two or three places, he traded 
with the ' natives ', and he prospered. One thing led to an- 
other ; the Britisher was more and more in evidence, and not 
alone as trader ; it was clear that he would not go back. 
The Britisher remained in India to govern, and by the end 
of the eighteenth century the incredible transformation had 
been all but completed. An Anglo-Saxon people ruling over 
a vast sub-continent, peopled by Aryans, Dravidians, Semites, 
and who not- -a curious concatenation ' But it was true ; the 
internecine feuds were over at last ; the country was at peace, 
ailbeit under the dubious shadow of foreign rule ; nevertheless 
it was peace. 

The Britisher could give his attention now to the arts of 
peace, to Education, for instance. At first the British adminis- 


trators in India, even when they were well-meaning and cons- 
cientious, were without any spontaneous interest in Hindu 
culture and Oriental learning and hence they did not boldly 
tackle the problem of illiteracy among the masses. Warren 
Hastings, indeed, foimded and liberally endowed the Calcutta 
Madrassa in 1781. (In the previous year, James Augustus 
Hicky had founded at Calcutta India's first newspaper, Hicky's 
Bengal Gazette] It was, however, the arrival of Sir William 
Jones that ushered in a new era in the education of India. 
He loved the peoples of India and their sacred literature and 
he looked upon himself as a servant, rather than as a ruler, 
of the people in whose midst he had been privileged (as he 
thought) to live, move and have his being. In his poem, Ode 
in InAtdtion of Alcaeus, he pointed out that not "high-raised 
battlement, or laboured mound " constitutes a State ; " starred 
and spangled courts" are but dens "where low-/rowed base- 
ness wafts perfumes to pride"' ; who then constitute a State? 
Jones answered : 

No ! Men, high-minded Men, 
With powers as far above dull brutes endued 

In forest, brake, or den, 
As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude ; 

Men who their duties know, 
But know their rights, and knowing dare maintain, 

Prevent the long-aimed blow, 
And crush Jthe tyrant while they rend the chain ; 
^ These constitute a state. 

y ones was certainly one of such " high-minded Men " ; he 
Jounded the Bengal Asiatic Society ; he published vigorous 
Renderings of Sakuntda and Hitopadesa ; he addressed an 
astonishing series of odes to various Hindu gods ; and he 
wrote a long verse tale, The Enchanted Fruit, based on a Ma\ha- 
bharata episode., Jones was an enlightened Englishman whose 
work inspired, not only other Englishmen, but also Indians to 
study the sacred Indian literature reverently, to bring it to the 
notice of the masses, and to help the Indian renaissance to' its 


fruitful blossoming in the fullness of time. Our debt to Sir 
William Jones is immense and cannot be acknowledged too 
often. He is one of a select band of Englishmen who have, 
in Wordsworth's phrase, carried " freights of worth to 
foreign lands "J 

Jones and his comrades in Oriental scholarship were no 
doubt inspired by a stern, missionary zeal. But there were 
difficulties in communicating the message of the renaissance 
to the unlettered massesrCThe humanists were one and all com- 
pelled to face this question : Was India to adopt a wholly 
westernized system of education with English as the medium 
of instruction, or was she merely to revive the study of Sans- 
krit and Persian and impart general education with the 
various mother tongues as the media? Opinion was sharply 
divided and things drifted for two or three decades.) Mean- 
while, Jonathan JXincan started the Sanskrit College .at. 
Benares ; Charles Grant and Lord Moira issued their weighty 
" Observations " and " Minutes " ; and a Committee of Pub- 
lic Instruction was constituted in 1823. 


Of a sudden three factors now emerged and, acting as a 
solvent of the doubts and perplexities of the situation, they 
defined with unmistakable clarity the course of education 'in 
India for the next one hundred years and more. These were : 
(1) the new intellectualism and renascent ardour among the 
Indians, as symbolized in Raja Rammohan Roy ; (2) the per- 
severance of the Christian missionaries ; and, above all, (3) 
the persuasiveness and metallic clarity of Macaulay's English 
propr style. 

*T Rammohan Roy and his friends had tasted the fruits of 
western literature and culture and were persuaded that India 
required a western type of education with English as the 
medium of instruction.) With the help of two Englishmen, 
Dgyid Hare and Sar.JSdwgird Hy^e East, JRammohan Roy 
brought into existence the Calcutta Hindu College, whichjater 


developed into the Presidency College. Starting with only 
one hundred students in 1817, the College steadily grew more 
and more popular and the number was quadrupled within the 
next twenty years. In Bombay and Madras, however, people 
with the conviction and energy of Rammohan Roy were want- 
ing and these provinces were content then to follow in the 
footsteps of enterprising, energetic and ever-experimenting 

The second factor which determined the course of educa- 
tion in India was the advent and activities of the Christian 
missionaries. The ultimate aim of these latter has always been 
the proselytization of the Hindu, Muslim and other non- 
Christian communities in India. And yet nothing but simple 
prejudice will belittle the pioneering work of c the missionaries 
in the fields of education and social service. The Serampore 
College was founded in 1818 by Carey, Ward and Marshman, 
'and it is to this day a flourishing institution. Other missionary 
schools and colleges were started presently all over India. Eng- 
lish was generally the medium of instruction in these mission- 
ary institutions and western curricula and methods were more 
or less transported wholesale to make Christian liberal educa- 
tion possible to the * natives ' of India. 

The third factor was Macaulay's 'Minute' urging that 
it was necessary and possible " to make natives of this country 
good English scholars and that to this end our efforts ought 
to be directed.^ Lord William Bentinck perused the * Minute' 
and his former perplexities vanished for ever ; he hesitated 
no longer.^ On March 7, 1835, the Governor-General-in- 
Council gave official imprimatur to Macaulay's policy by 
resolving that "the great object of the British Government 
ought to be the promotion of European literature and science 
among the natives of India, and that all funds appropriated 
tor the purpose of education would be best employed on 
English education alone. "J 

On English education done ! The emphasis was deliberate. 
The intention was by no means to educate the masses through 


the medium of English. Government was to organize secondary 
and collegiate education with the available funds ; and the 
young men who went out of these schools and colleges were 
expected either to enter Government service as clerks or to go 
back to their villages and confer the blessings of the new 
education on the masses. Thus was the new culture to filter 
from the higher jmd intellectual classes down to the parched 
jhroats in India's seven lakhs of villages. ~~ 

An admirable arrangement on paper, only, it refused to 
work. The average educated Indian refused to return to his 
village, and became rather an absurd copy of the European in 
India, imitating his dress, speaking his language, and thinking 
his thoughts ; thus the redeemed Indian was alas almost a 
total loss to the' country. Later educational experiments have 
tried to broaden the basis of education and to carry its mes- 
sage to the villages ; but English continues to dominate the 
curriculum. Willy nilly, men and women in India, in very 
considerable numbers, still read English, write and talk in 
English, often think even in English. 

Be that as it may, the first Indo-Anglians of over a 
century ago >had no heart-searchings and patriotic self- 
questionings. (Western culture was a good thing. English 
Literature was a very good thing indeed ! Christianity, too, 
had its good points. Renascent India should be free to bor- 
row from the West ; the regional literatures could gain a new 
lease of life only by sucking inspiration from English Lite- 
rature ; and Hinduism itself could re-assert its greatness by 
eschewing some of its obscurantisms and taking over from 
Christianity its best features.^ What was wanted was action 
more than meditation ; science more than the humanities ; 
language as a fit medium of vigorous expression and not as 
a play-ground for grammatical gymnastics ; education to fit 
one for citizenship and a profession and not to isolate one 
from one's countrymen ; and, above all, a burning desire to 
effect a fusion of the best in two seemingly alien civilizations, 
the Western and the Oriental, so that the " two minds shall 


flow together" and effect a nobler synthesis than had been 
achieved ever before ! 

J^Rammohan Roy, Keshub Chandra Sen, and their com- 
rades and immediate successors were possessed of this faith 
and they laboured in the strength of this conviction. They 
wrote in their mother tongues to appeal to the masses ; more 
often, or on more weighty occasions, they wrote or spoke in 
English, so that their words may carry their message to the 
length and breadth of India or even to the ears of the powers 
that be in far off Britain. Indians thus became Indo-Anglians 
out of necessity ; but, be it said to their credit, they made a 
virtue of this necessity.) 


The earliest writings of the Indians in English were, 
naturally enough, in prose. After all, as Moli&re's hero dis- 
covered to his great astonishment, we are talking prose all the 
time without quite realizing what we are doing. The Indians 
of a century or so ago were often obliged to talk or to appeal 
to their English rulers on various subjects of public import- 
ance. A speech had to be carefully prepared ; more occa- 
sionally, a pamphlet had to be written and published ; or, may 
be, a Bengali publicist wished to make an appeal to the intel- 
ligentsia of the whole country. j\s the number of Indians 
who were familiar with the language increased, English publi- 
cations also increased in number^ in bulk, and in variety. Even 
English verses were boldly attempted by these pioneers. And 
they were actually read and praised by the "proper authori- 
in India and England ! 

Rammohan Roy, who did much pioneering work 
in Bengali prose and founded the journal Sqmbqd Kttumudi, 
was also a master of effective English prose. j In 1820 appeared 
his Precepts of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and Happiness. 
Rammohan found Hindu society decadent ; many Hindu 
customs and practices seemed to him abhorrent ; repelled by 
the accretions that Hinduism had gathered during the past, 


Rammohan had not the patience to discriminate nicely be- 
tween the soul of Hinduism and its separable trappings. On 
the other hand, he responded readily (as other Hindus then 
and later have responded) to the message of Christ and found 
in it what he had been too impetuous to find in Hinduism. 
_As he read and re-read the Gospels, he^fdt.that Christianity 
alone could revitalize Hinduism; he very much desired^ to 
"evolve a form of theism out of Hinduism^ by eliminating 
from it all questionable^ practices and principles ; and he 
declared that he had found "the doctrines of Christ more 
conducive to moral principles, and better adapted for the use 
of rational beings," than any other that had come to his know- 

Rammohan was a sincere soul ; social injustices angered 
him to the pitch of frenzy ; however his denunciations of 
Hinduism may appear exaggerated to us of a later generation, 
it is out of question that he was largely responsible for the 
re-awakening in the Hindu fold which the country has wit- 
nessed during the past two or three generations. This awaken- 
ing has borne fruit, negatively in reforms like the abolition of 
sati, widow remarriage, the Sarda Act, and the gradual re- 
moval of the disabilities of the Harijans, as also positively 
in the - emergence of Hindu leaders like Ramakrishna and 
Vivekananda, Dayanand Saraswati and Sri Aurobindo, 
Mahatma Gandhi and Radhakrishnan. To-day we are wit- 
ness to the fact that tens of millions of professed followers of 
Jesus Christ are busy reducing the world to a mutual suicide 
club ; this no more affects the purity of Christ's teachings 
than sati and child marriage proved the futility or immorality 
of Sri Krishna's or Yajnavalkya's teachings. 

Among Rammohan's other writings mention may be 
made of these two brochures : Brief Remarks regarding 
Modern Encroachments on the Ancient Rights of Females 
according^ to the Hindu Law of Inheritance (1822) and 
Exposition of the Practical Operation of the Judicial and 
Revenue Systems of India, and of the General Character and 


Condition of its Native Inhabitants (1832). Besides, he pub- 
lished several other papers and pamphlets touching upon almost 
every aspect of national life. He was indefatigable and he 
refused to spare himself ; he was perhaps too cocksure of his 
positions, but in a pioneer this is a merit rather than other- 
wise. He met the Britisher pn equal terms and compelled 
him td"~recognize the fact that even a ' native ' could be pre- 
"eminent morally and intellectually. He laid New India's 
foundations after first clearing the ground of much rubbish ; 
Jhis was a dedicated life, a life of daily toil .and constant 
endeavour. His strong and determined personality shows itself 
in his many, prose writings in Englisji ; and for this reason 
they will always be treasured by his countrymen. 

Many other books in English, by other Indian writers of 
Rammohan's time, can be inspected in old libraries ; but their 
intrinsic importance is negligible. Hasan Ali's Observations 
on the Mussalmans of India (1832) is among the earliest 
books written by a Muslim on Muslims ; P. Rajagopaul's 
Mission to Siam (1820) and Mohan Lai's Travels in the 
Punjab (1834) are among our early books of travel or me- 
moirs ; Kavali Venkata Ramaswami's Biographical Sketches 
of Dekhan Poets embodies crude attempts at biography ; and 
Kasi Prasad Ghose's The Shair and Other Poems (1830) is 
certainly one of the first exhibits of Indo-Anglian verse. Eng- 
lish had seemingly come to stay ; and Indo-Anglian Literature 
had definitely begun " muling and puking " and thus showing 
some disagreeable signs of vigorous life. Truly, there is 
nothing like all this in history ; a very strange story indeed, 
this story of the pioneers of Indo-Anglian Literature ! 



In the India of over one hundred years ago, the Britisher 
spoke or at least attempted to speak the vernacular of the 


locality in his dealings with the public, for 'natives' who 
knew English were as yet few and far between ; but he made 
up for this by talking in English at home or at the club, and 
by reading English books, and by writing English letters to 
correspondents in India or abroad. Presently, many an 
Englishman in India started writing to the press or publish- 
ing books in prose and verse. These books were meantior 
consumption, not only in India, but also in Britain. (Sir 
William Jones, John Leyden, Bishop Heber, Haldane Rattray,. 
David Lester Richardson, Meredith Parker, Calder Camp- 
bell and several others had published packets of meritorious 
English verse dealing with Indian themes. ) Other types of 
literature, too, like fiction and drama, were by no means un- 
attempted. Books* from England used to come but rarely and 
were luxuries ; and the Anglo-Indians turned this disadvant- 
age to good account by producing a literature of their own. 

^ *The young Indians of the day, besides reading their 
Shafeespeares and Miltons and Byrons, eagerly read as well 
and read aloud Leyden's Ode to an Indian Gold Coin and 
similar Anglo-Indian verses of the time. ) The educated Indian 
was now accustomed to talk in English in public while using 
his mother tongue at home. He was becoming semi-English, 
in fact ; if he could read English and talk in that alien langu- 
age, could he not write in it as well ? There were masters 
whom he could imitate ; there were Jones and Leyden, Parker 
and Richardson, not to mention the great poets of the British 
Romantic Revival. And if he wrote, his verses and his prose 
writings were sure of an audience, composed of the English- 
men in India and the educated Indians. This was how the 
earliest Indo-Anglian poets argued in the depths of their being 
and bravely solicited the English muse. Henry Derozio was 
among the first of these knight-errants, and the best of them alL 


Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was born in^jCalcutta on 
the 10th April, "1809. His father was a Portuguese "~gentTe~ 


man^his mother was an Indian lady. When he was only 
fourteen, Derozio entered the Mercantile firm of Messrs. 
James, Scott & Co. Soon, however, he was transferred to 
Bhagalpur where, all of a sudden, he discovered that he was 
a poet. Intimacy with Nature quickened his poetic sensibi- 
lities, and as he lisped the numbers came, and they came 
freely and gracefully. He had achieved the apparently im- 
possible, he had become an English poet ! 

Derozio's early pieces attracted the attention of Dr. John 
Grant and others who then counted in Calcutta. At the age 
of eighteen, Derozio secured a professorship in the Calcutta 
Hindu College and quickly gained the esteem and affection of 
his wards. He was one of the earliest teachers of English m_ 
the country ancTrie was more ffian a mere feacher of English 
Literature 'he was an example, and an inspiration, to his 
pupils.^ He" made them listen, he made them read, he made 
them think for themselves. His love for his students lat^r 
found poetic expression in the lines : 

Expanding like the petals of young flowers, 

I watch the gentle opening of your minds, 

Anld the sweet loosening of the spell that binds 

Your intellectual energies and powers. 

That stretch (like young birds in soft summer hours) 

Their wings to try their strength. O ! how the winds 

Of circumstance, and freshening April showers 

Of early knowledge, and unnumbered kinds 

Of new perceptions, shed their influence, 

Arid how you worship Truth's omnipotence ! 

What joyance rains upon me, when I see 

Fame in the mirror of futurity, 

Weaving the chaplets you are yet to gain 

And then I feel I have not lived in vain. 

Apparently, the teacher and his students got on well 
together, giving and receiving freely. But it was too good to 
last. JDerozio was misunderstood and misrepresented by the 
public, and Tie had to resign his professorship. He now turned 


to journalism and The East Indian, his paper, did some not- 
able work. But already his days were numbered ; and hardly 
twenty-two yearsxold, Derozio died of Cholera on the 23rd 
December, 1831. ('in Mr. Oaten's words, "what English lite- 
rature lost through the early death of Keats, Anglo-Indian 
literature lost, in lesser degree, when Derozio died ; for in both 
men there was a passionate temperament combined with un- 
bounded sympathy with nature." Both died while their powers 
were not yet fully developed.",) 

Eurasian though he jvas, Derozio was an Indian in his 
love Tor the country and in his aspirations on her behalf. He 
knew India's past, but he knew too that the " glory that was 
Ind " little availed hef in the days of her misfortune : he 
therefore apostrophizes his country in these moving lines : > 

J/My country, in thy days of glory past 
A beauteous halo circled round thy brow, 
And worshipped as a deity thou wast, 
Where is that glory, where that reverence now ? 
The eagle pinion is chained down at last, 
And grovelling in the lowly dust art thou ; 
The minstrel hath no wreath to wreathe for thee 
Save the sad vStory of thy misery. 
Well/ let me dive into the depths of time, 
And bring from out the ages that have rolled 
A few small fragments of those wrecks sublime 
Which human eye may never more behold ; 
Arid let the guerdon of my labour be, 
>Iy fallen country, one kind word for thee. 

much indeed Derozio identified himself with the 
country of his birth that he has been called, not inaptly, the 
National Bard of modern India, a true predecessor of the great 
Rabindranath.) Derozio himself was not unconscious of his 
mission, for he said with commendable self-knowledge and 
humility : 

Many a hand more worthy far than mine 
Once thy harmonious chords to sweetneste gave : 


Those hands are cold, but if those notes divine 
May be by mortal wakened once again, 
Harp of my country, let me strike the strain. 


As a poet, creditable as are his achievements, Derozio is? 
to be chiefly admired for the great promise underlying his 
published work. Like Keats and Chatterton before him, like 
Toru Dutt and Aru Dutt after him, J)erozio moved in the 
fields of poesy for all too brief a period ; all of them were 
alike, in the SKelleyan phrase, " inheritors of unfulfilled re- 
nown." Derozio's sonnets and poems are competent, sustained 
by deep"7eelihg and executed with good craftsmanship ; again 
"gfrid again, he achieves that fusion between thought and ex- 
pression, feeling and form, which signifies all true poetry. 

No doubt,, the technique of most of his poems is, not un- 
naturally, derivative ; writing as he did in the eighteen- 
twenties, Derozio inevitably came under the spell of Byron 
and Thomas Moore. Derozio's most ambitious work, The 
Fakir oj Jungheera, is full of Byronic echoes. The TJrahmm 
widow, Nuleeni, is well delineated ; she escapes sati at the 
last moment, being carried away by a robber-chief ; but other 
sufferings are now her portion in life and she loses her robber- 
hief and she is thus widowed a second time. She clasps the 
dead body frantically 

as if she dreamed 

Of him in her embrace : but they who thought 

That life was tenanting her breast, and sought 

Some answer from her heart to hush the doubt, 

Found that its eloquence had all burned out. 
Nuleeni has found her peace in blissful union in the fact of 
death ! 

While Derozio's language is reminiscent of Byron and 
Moore, his ardent love for his country, his passion for social 
reform and his_iender and courageous humanity are entirely 
tils "own. Even on his death-bed he did not lose either his 


equanimity or his brave faith. Almost like Donne, Derozio 
faces the awful mystery of Death challengingly, triumph- 
antly : 

But man's eternal energies! can make 

An atmosphere around him, arid so take 

Good out of evil, like the yellow bee 

That stocks from flowers malignant a sweet treasure, 

O tyrant fate ! thus shall I vanquish thee, 

For out of suffering shall I gather pleasure. 

Derozio lived a, beautiful life it was, in fact, the best 
poem that he wrote. He loved his pupils, he loved his voca- 
tion, he loved his country, he loved life in its seeming turmoil 
as also in its quintessential harmony ; and when he could live 
in the world no more, he was brave in the hour of death. His 
tomb is located in the South Park Street burial-ground in 
Calcutta and, to quote his own words, 

There all in silence, let him sleep his sleep 
There nothing o'er him but the heavens shall weep, 
There never pilgrim at his shrine shall bend, \i 
But holy stars shine, their nightly vigils keep y 



After Derozio, the next outstanding name in the story of 
Indo^Anglian poetry is Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1827- 
1873). A Bengali by birth, Michael Madhusudan embraced 
Christianity and migrated to Madras in search of a vocation 
and edited for some time an English newspaper in that city. 
He married a European lady, qualified for the bar in Eng- 
land, and tried to make a living as a lawyer. His was a 
chequered career and he died in the prugejoTJiis y^Snd at 
the height of his powers in a Calcutta hospital, (kis long 
metrical romance in English, The Captive Ladie, was an 


attempt to tell the story of Prithvi Raj, the Rajput king of 
Delhi :) the poem, published in 1849, won general approval 
with its Byronic fluency and gusto. His other works in Eng- 
lish include Visions of the Past in blank verse, translations of 
Sarmista (1859) and Ratnavali (1858), and the farce, Is this 
called Civilization? (1871). 

During the latter part of his life, Michael Madhusudhan 
wfote^mainly in Bengali and his fame rests in particular prf 
"the Bengali Epic, Mtghnad-Badha, of which an English 
rendering appeared in 1879. 

Michael Madhusudhan has been a great inspiration to 
successive generations of poets. The poet Nabokissen Ghose 
(Ram Sharma) wrote an ' In Memoriam ' piece, in the course 
of which he said : 

Hushed Is the tuneful voice that thrilled the soul, 
Silent the lyre whose swelling notes did roll 
In streams of music sweet that did impart 
A lifer- -a soul even to the dullest heart ! 

And Sri Aurobindo concluded his moving commemoration 
ode with these memorable lines : 

No human hands such notes ambrosial moved ; 
These accents are not of the imperfect earth ; 
Rather, the god was voiceful in their birth, 
The god himself of the enchanting flute, 
The god himself took up thy pen and wrote. 


The year after the death of Michael Madhusudhan, died 
Aru Dutt, at the age of twenty ; and three years later, on the 
3KE~oiT August 1877, died Aru's younger sister, Joru Dutt 
at the age of twenty-one. Both were poetesses of the first 
order, though Torn has left more finished work behind_hei 
ttiaif her elder sister ; of Aru no less than of Toru the histo- 
rian of Indo- Anglian literature can but say, 'in the words oi 
Marlowe : 


Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight 
And burned is Apollo's laurel bough. 

Their father, Gobind Chandr^^Djitt besides contributing 
to TJte~l?t4fi~Famtiy Album (1876), also published The Loyal 
Hours (1876) and Cherry Stones (1881), both containing good 
English verses. His_ wif e^ KshetramonL, was~ .well . .versed ^ia 
English as well as Bengali. Born in such a cultured family, it 
wasTnatural for Aru and Toru to indulge in literary exercises 
from a very early age. ^Ajtay of about four years in France, 
England and Italy, in the course of which the sisters acquired 
a" high degree of proficiency^ in both French and English, 
completed their education and vigorously quickened their 
creative pulse. Returning to Bengal towards the close of 1873, 
the sisters plunged, in Mr. Edmund Gosse's words, into "a 
feverish dream of intellectual effort and imaginative produc- 
tion-'" Aru broke under the strain sooner than her sister ; and 
Toru herself, after working at high imaginative pressure for 
three more years, gave up the battle at last and joined Aru 
and the "choir invisible" in heaven. 

Aru's creative period was barely a few months. Six or 
seven of her exquisite essays in verse appeared, along with 
Toru's, in A Sheaj Gleaned in French Fields (1876). Since 
the title-page showed only Toru Dutt's name, Mr. Gosse, who 
reviewed the book in The Examiner, attributed Aru's pieces 
also to her sister. It was, in fact, Aru's beautiful rendering of 
Victor Hugo's "Morning Serenade" that first filled Mr. 
Gosse with " surprise and almost rapture " ; and, indeed, 
neither Aru nor Toru ever did anything more perfectly tuned 
to the very genius of English poetry : 

Still barred thy doors ! the far east glows, 

The rooming wind blows fresh and free. 
Should not the hour that wakes the rose 
Awaken also thee? 

All look for thee, Love, Light, and Song, 
Light in the sky deep red above, 


Song, in the lark of pinions strong, 

And in my heart, true Love. 

Apart we miss our nature's goal, 

Why strive to cheat our destinies ? 
Was not my love made for thy soul ? 

Thy beauty for mine tyes ' 

No longer sleep, 

Oh, listen now,! 
I wait and weep, 

But where art thou ? 

Hardly less hauntingly exquisite is the lyrical cry of a 
stanza like this : 

O echo, whose repose I mar 

With my regrets and mournful cries, 

He comes-^I hear his voice afar, 

Or is it thine that thus replies'? 

Peace ! hark, he calls ! in vain, in vain. 

The loved and lost comes not again. 

Like Tqru, Aru also was an accomplished musician and, be- 
sides, she could draw with ease and grace. Aru (and her 
brother Abju, who had died very young in 1865) doubtless 
inspired this piercingly beautiful stanza in Toru Dutt's Our 
-Casuarina Tree : 

VBut not because of its magnificence 

Dear is the Casuarina to my soul : 

Beneath it we have played ; though years may roll, 
O sweet companions, loved with love intense, 

For your sakes/ shall the tree be ever dear ! 
Blent with your images, it shall arise 
In memory, till the hot tears blind mine eyes ! 

What is that dirge-like murmur that I hear 
Like the sea breaking on a shingle-beach? 
It is the tree's lament, an eerie speech, 
That haply to the unknown land may reach. 



While Aru has left but a few splendid specimens from 
which to let us infer the fury of her imaginative life, her 
sister, having been granted a few more months of ceaseless 
poetic activity, has left behind her a body of achievement to 
which it will be difltalft to find a parallel in the history of 
English literature. *{A novel in French, a novel in English, 
many magazine articles and studies, and several scores of 
poems: these constitute ^rf unbelievable achievement for -a 
girl of twenty-one, to whom French and English were alike 
totally alien languages.) No wonder The Saturday Review 
categorically declared : " Had George Sand or George Eliot 
died at the age of twenty-one, they would certainly not have 
left behind them any proof of application or of originality 
superior to those bequeathed to us by Toru Dutt" 

Her first published volume (and the only one published 
during her all too brief life), A Sheaf Gleaned in French 
Fields, contained nearly two hundred verse translations from 
the French poets, poets mainly of the Romantic school like 
Victor Hugo, Soulary and de Gramont. People who are com- 
petent to. judge them as translations have pointed out that 
they re-capture/fhe spirit of the originals with a subtle and 
sure mastery. (Mr. Gosse went further and declared that "if 
modern French literature were entirely lost, it might not be 
found impossible to reconstruct a great number of poems 
from this Indian version.") 

But, after all, it is simpler to look upon the pieces in the 
Sheaf merely as delightful and moving English lyrics. An 
Indian girl rendering French poems into English : this is a 
phenomenon too good to be true ! But, the marvel is there, 
and it must discomfit mere reason. Was it Beranger's or her 
own soul's intimate questionings that she rendered in pulsat- 
ing lines these ? It is not unnatural to look upon them rather 
as the recordation of her own frustrations, longings, and 
hopes : 


A waif on this earth, 
Sick, ugly and small, 
Contemned from my birth 
And rejected by all. 
From my lips broke a cry, 
Such as 1 anguish may wring ; 
Sing, said Gold in reply, 
(Chant, poor little thing. 

In the fiheaj Toru found her vocation as well as her 
voice; she, "poor little thing'', would sing she would sing 
now of India's heroes and heroines, of Savitri and Satyavan, 
of Sita and Lakshman, of Dhruva and Ekalavya (Buttoo), of 
Dasaratha and Sindhu, of Prahlada and his father Hiranya- 
kasipu ; she that could so accurately render the heart-beats of 
a French poet of the sixteenth century would now interpret the 
great creations of Sanskrit seers and poets. Toru was steadily 
at work on her new enterprise since her return to her parental 
"home in Calcutta. She completed some of the tales, but the 
projected cycle could not be completed ; she herself was not 
to see the publication of her Ballads and Legends. It was 
her father who, five years after her death, arranged for the 
publication of Ancient Ballads and Legends oj Hindustan, 
with an appreciative memoir by Edmund Gosse. This slim 
volume brought together nine 'ballads' or 'legends' as also 
seven occasional sonnets and poems, including the justly 
famous Our Caswarina Tree. 


It is not necessary to elaborate the merits of the Ballads 
and Legends ; immature the poems may be here and there, 
but they have the important merit of being readable and re- 
readable. Toru had heard the stories of Savitri and Sita and 
Prahlad and Dhruva from the lips of her own mother ; she had 
long revolved in her mind the inner significance of these 
Puranic stories ; and she has little difficulty in re-telling these 
oft-told tales, and none of their magic is lost in, the new shapes 


that they have assumed in her bodes. There is no modernist* 
attempt at underlining psychology or prettifying emotion ; 
the unvarnished tale works its own magic even in an English 
garb and we realize that the primary human emotions of love, 
filial piety, devotion, gratitude and the rest are the stuff out 
of which great poetry is made poetry that moves men's hearts 
" More than a trumpet/' 

The munificence of our racial memory is richly em- 
bodied in our Puranic tales and legends ; but they will dry 
up and scatter as dust if they are coldly and ultra-rationally 
dissected, as some Bright Young Things have done in the 
past. Toru Dutt approaches her task with reverence and she 
sings fief ballads^as though they are so many intimate songs 
of her abiding faith. Humour and satire and irony are kept 
rigidly out of her universe and only the clear light of faith 
throws its radiant beauty on the almost unearthly figures 
of Savitri pleading with Yama, of Sindhu lifting up his re- 
proachful face to Dasaratha, of Lakshman slinking away from 
Sita's presence with evil forebodings in his heart, and of 
Buttoo heroically severing his thumb as his great preceptor's 
fee. Toru had the root of the matter in her ; she could seize 
her stories imaginatively, and live in the worlds created by 
them ; and she could breathe into plain English words uni- 
verses of thought and feeling. The Ballads and Legends have 
been often reprinted and some of the tales are tried favourites 
with school-children ; breathing as they do " a Vedic solemn- 
ity and simplicity of temper", they are among the most 
satisfactory productions of the Indo-Anglians ; there is no 
doubt that they will live. 

Merely as technical exercises in English verse, the Bal- 
lads and Legends will do credit to any modern poet. Toru 
Dutt manages the octosyllabte line with considerable dexterity; 
her rhymesi-are rarely far-fetched and the sense glides along 
without interruptions. Perhaps, her blank verse is somewhat 
wooden ; but, then, blank verse yields its peculiar charms only 


to the lucky few who have mysteriously learned its * open se- 
satne/ Who koowsi what Toru Dutt might not have achieved 
had fate spared her for some decades more? Might she not 
have written a powerful sonnet-sequence or poetic tragedy in 
the years of her self-confidence and maturity if, as a mere girl, 
she could achieve a stanza like : 

He said, and straight his weapons took 

His bow and arrows pointed keen, 
Kind, nay, indulgent, was his look, 

No trace of anger there was seen, 
Only a sorrow dark, that seemed 

To deepen his relsolve to dare 
All dangers. Hoarse the vulture screamed, 

As out he strode with dauntless air ; 

or a sonnet like this, as genuine a work of verbal embroidery 
as '-there isi : 

A sea of foliage girds our garden round 
But not a sea of dull unvaried green, 
Sharp contrasts of all colours here are seen ; 

The light-green graceful tamarinds abound 

Amid the mango clumps of green profound, 

Ajud palms arise, like pillars gray, between ; 
And o'er the quiet pools the seemuls lean, 

Red, red, and startling like a trumpet's sound. 

But nothing can be lovelier than the ranges 
Of bamboos to the eastward, when the moon 

Looks through their gaps, and the white lotus changes 
Into a cup of silver. One might swoon 
Drunken with beauty then, or gaze and gaze 
On a primeval Eden, in amaze. 

"This fragile and exotic blossom of song" withered and 
fell ere it could unfold all its petals or dedicate its full beauty 
to the world. For weeks she knew that her end was coming, 
and she was brave and composed till the end ; and her end was 
"perfect peace". We can but conclude in Mr,. H. A. L. Fish- 


er's words tihat " this child of the green valley of the Ganges" 
will for ever remain " in the great fellowship of English poets/' 
Not Love only, but the measure of her achievement as well, 
will ever defend her from proud " Oblivion's curse." 





Renascent Bengal was by now seething with literary activity 
of all kinds. The great Bankimchandra Chatterji was produc- 
ing in rapid succession his extraordinary series of Bengali 
novels. Of him Sri Aurobindo justly wrote : " Among the 
rishis of the later age we at last have realized that we must 
count the name of the man who gave us the reviving mantra 
which is creating a new India, the mantra of Bande Mataram." 
Although Bankimchandra did begin a novel in English, he did 
notjBomplete it, and did instead the vast bulk of his work 
in his own mother tongue. But his very presence on the 
literary scene was an inspiration to other Indian writers, and 
hence the last quarter of the nineteenth century saw a pheno- 
menal increase in the number of English and vernacular publica- 
tions. Not Bengal merely, but all India, seemed to have re- 
covered from its stupor, and renascent India was well under 
way. Rightly therefore Mr. Priyaranjan Sen remarks that 
Bankimchandra "awakened the country to the greater world 
"oiiteide, and linked the two together. The East and the West 
met in him." 

Here we can merely catalogue the many publications of 
the early Indo-Anglian poets, reserving detailed comment to 
just a few significant among them). Sashichandra Dutt, a 
member of the Dutt family and 1 thus related to Aru and toru>. 


published a considerable body of English verse in Miscellane- 
ous Verses (1848)| and Stray Leaves (1864). Harachandra 
Dutt had at least one book to his credit, Lotus Leaves, or 
Poems chiefly on Ancient Indian Subjects (1871). Lai Behari 
Dey^ Govinda Samanta, or the History of a Bengal Raiyut 
("1874 ) and Folk Tales of Bengal (1883) are both "competent 
rather than brilliant." Sir Saurindramohan Tagore seems to 
have been an indefatigable' and versatile writer. English Verses 
(1875), A Vision of Sumeru and Other Poems (1878), Hindu 
Drama '(1880), The Binding of the Braid (1880) and Tar a- 
vali (1881) are some of Sir Saurindramohan's contributions 
to poetry and drama, although many of his works were mainly 
derived from the original Sanskrit. Ramkrishna Pillai's Tales, 
of Ind appeared in 1895 over Fisher Unwin's imprint, but the 
book had no particular merit except a creditable fluency. 


A copious writer of English verse for whom extravagant 
claims have been made was Babu Nabokissen Ghose, better 
known a " Ram Sharma." He was born, in 1837 and died 
ini 1918. He held various administrative posts but retired from 
service when barely forty. He seems to have lived a singular- 
ly blameless life and to have won the affection of a large 
number of friends, both Indian and European. Being some- 
what of an unpractical idealist, he could not always trim his 
sails to the prevailing breezes in officialdom and hence he re- 
tired earlier than he need have done and was consequently 
a poor man to the end of his days. He has described him- 
self as one 

Who, rough in manner, and of sharpest tongue, 
Yet owned a heart that felt most warm and strong 
For even the meanest fife beneath the sun. 


/Ram Parma's English verses haye_ been collected and 
published by his friend, Debendrachanrira 

make a sumptuous volume of over three^ hundred j>agjes. There 
is no doubt at all that Ram Sharma could write with facility. 
Many of the merely commemoration pieces like those address- 
ed to or dedicated to important personages like the Prince of 
Wales, Gladstone, Lord Ripon, Bradlaugh, Sambhuchandra 
Mukerji, Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Kesub Chandra Sen and 
Dwarakanath Mitter are no worse than the general run of the 
type, but they are rarely poetry. Nor is it necessary to look 
down upon a muse that waxes eloquent about Viceroys and 
British Prime Ministers, unmindful of the fact of Indian slave- 
ry ; Ram Sharma shared the feelings of the vast bulk of his 
countrymen and it is no use criticising him for not writing 
English verse in terms of a "Quit India" movement of 1942. 
Ram Sharma was a simple and sincere soul x and he. had the 
courage of his convictions. He was responsive to the shifting 
movements in the life of the Indian nation and fa* was as 
willing to welcome an imperial plenipotentiary as to castigate. 
a local die-hard, as eager to wish the Allahabad Congress god- 
speed as he was ready to condemn the " pseudo-social refor- 
mers ". 

And yet, in spite of their fatal facility, these numerous 
commemoration and topical verses are certainly not poetry 
pure and simple. The authentic poet is, however, revealed in 
such sustained pieces as The Last Day, Shiva Ratri or A 
Glimpse of Maya Fair, Bhagabati Gita or The Doctrine of 
Sakti Worship, Willow Drops, Daksha Yagna and the Swayam- 
bara Lila. * As a dream fantasy, The Last Day isi a notable 
achievement""; it contains a series of vividly portrayed corton- 
porary figures, the most notable among them being Raja Ram- 
mohan Roy, David Hare, Sir Jamseitjee Jeejeebhoy, Sir Salar 
Jang, Mohendralal Sircar, Shambhuchandra Mukerji and 


Harish Chandra Mukerji. There are also satirical 'portraits ,gf 
other types of humanity, asi distinguished frpi& the above 
noble types ; and the whole poem evokes a splendid portrait 
gallery pcr<&enting, _asjt were, a significant cross-section of con- 
temporary humanity, 

Shiva Ratri is conceived as an Indian Vanity Fair and 
Ram Sharma vivifies the scene with pictorial detail : 

On a rocky height 

With deodars crown' d, Dharmji now stood alone. 
Before him lay an undulating plain, 
Glitt'ring with gorgeous palaces and sheds, 
With hill beyond hill wooded to the top 
Standing like blue-clad sentinels around. 
A crystal lake, by crystal streamlets fed, 

Gleamed on the west beneath the evening glow 

Here were rick thickets of sweet sandalwood, 

And cinnamon, and cardamum, and clove, 

And avenues of bokula and palm 

And pine;, with vistas lengthening to the sky. 

There, groves of kadamb, champac, and tamal, 

Mango and orange, and of many a flower 

And luscious fruit-tree, on whose leafy boughs 

The stately peacock spread his starry tail, 

And song-birds of mellifluous notes the koil, 

Papya, shama, doel, and bahau, 

Poured out their throats in rivalry of song. 

Dharmji wakes up in time from his, "dismal trance" ; 
but he has had a glimpse oij the Maya Fair and found it want- 

In Bhagabati Gita, perhaps Ram Sharma's best poem, the 
theme is~Bhagabati, the Eternal She, the " home-of-all wpmb- 
of-ali " created things ; Bhagabati is visualized in all her sacred 
and awful majesty, surrounded by the band of Yoginis, " spirits 
of earth and hood, of fire and air." A hymn of praise 


comes up from below, "from holy Brahrnins, hoar with snow& 
of age " : 

Hail ! ten-armed Goddess of the Lion-throne,, 
Whose power Time and Space and Being own ! 
The seed of things was in Thy mighty womb, 
Their source prolific and their final doom ! 
From Thee the mystic Trinal Unity 

Virinchi, Vishnu, Shiva one in three- 
All sprang, Thou primal dread Divinity, 

Thou great First Cause and End to be ! 
May brother brother clasp in close embrace, 
And pleasure beam on each familiar face, 
As friend meets friend around the festive board, 

And tells, of pangs endured or triumphs scored ! 

In varied names we worship only Thee ; 
In vain trie creeds veil Thee in mystery ; 
For God or Goddess, Thou art all the same 
In every form we but adore Thy name ! 

Here and there we stumble upon bad verses and whole 
passages are sometimes flat ; but, taken in mass, these three 
poems are nobly articulate. Ram Sharma's blank verse shows, 
a conscious desire to imitate Milton and the 1 .peak passages do 
undoubtedly recall similar, but more triumphant, improvisa- 
tions in Paradise Lost. Besides, Ram Sharma wields the ballad 
measure effectively, especially when he wants to produce comic 
effects. Daksha Yagna, "an Indian ballad in English verse", 
is among Ram Sharma's most successful poems. From the first 

Daksha, a royal saint of old, 

Made up his mind, as legends tell,, 

A ceremonial rite to hold, 

A yagna .on the grandest scale 

the story of Daksha's discomfiture at the hands of Shiva un- 
rolls itself briskly ; the drama is as good as acted before our 
very eyes ; and the touch is impish and light throughout. 


(Ram Sharma may not be quite what his editor thinks he 
is " perhaps the greatest poet of India writing in English 
verse " ; but he is an accomplished poet enough, and he deserves 
to be more widely known and read than he is.J 


A brother of Sashichandra Dutt, Romesh Chunder gained 
greater renown as an administrator and as a Bengali and Englisb 
writer. Romesh Chunder butt was born eleven years later than 
"Ram Sharmai but predeceased him by nine years, Romesh 
Chunder had his! education at the Calcutta Presidency College 
and later successfully competed for the ladian Civil Service 
examination in England. After attaining the rank of divisional 
commissioner in Bengal, Romesh Dutt retired before reaching 
$he age of fifty and devoted himself, for a time, exclusively to 
literary work. He was returned to the Legislative Council at 
Calcutta and subsequently served as revenue minister and dewan 
of Baroda. 

His works include Bengali novels, English renderings of 
Ramayana and Mahabharata, and various other publications 
dealing with the economic condition of India in the nineteenth 
century. Lays of Ancient India (1894) showed Romesh 
Chunder's happy facility with English numbers ; Jiis fame as 
an Indo-Angliafii poet must, however, rest on his clajs&ic render- 
ings of Ramayana (1900) and Mahabharata (1898)'. Man- 
mathanatha Dutt, too, had already produced his translations 
of the great epics ; and there was also Pratapchandra Roy's 
monumental translation of Mahabharata in eighteen volumes 
( 1883^95) . There were besides other translations in existence, 
done by Indians or by Europeans, of varying degrees of merit. 
Romesh Chunder's partial translations of Ramayana and Maha-^ 
T)harata are nevertheless the best and most poetic of them all ; 


others produced translations, but Romesh Chunder produced 
happy renderings that are poems in their own right. They 
are the best introductions that we have in the English language 
to our two great national epics and they have therefore more 
than earned their right for inclusion in Dent's Everyman's 
Library of the World's Best Books. 

Jtomesh Chunder Dutt has succeeded where pthers have 
failed because jie knew the Wiisdom of resolyed^limitation. He 
has reduced the 24,000 couplets of the Ramayana and the over 
200,000 couplets of the Mahabharata to about 4000 couplets of 
rhymed English verse in the Locksley Hall metre. He has ac- 
complished this feat of condensation, not by actually summariz- 
ing the original epics, J>ut by rendering only the comparatively 
more important portions (more important, that is, from the 
story point of view) and supplying the connecting links by 
means of concise prose narratives. " The advantage of this 
arrangement ", says the translator, " is that, in the passages pre- 
sented' to the reader, it is the poet who speaks to him, not the 
translator. Though vast portions of the original are skipped 
over, those which are presented are the portions which narrate 
the main incidents of the epic, and they describe those incidents 
as told by the poet himself. . . .Not only are the incidents nar- 
rated in the same order as in the original, but they are told in 
the style of the poet as far as possible. Even: the similes! and 
metaphors and figures of speech are all or mostly adopted from 
the original ; the translator has not ventured either to adopt his 
own distinct style of narration, or to improve on the style of 
the original with his own decorations." The episodes, the 
endless discussions on ethical, philosophical and political pro- 
blems, the many obvious interpolations, all these have been 
omitted, although the Mahabharata retains, for a specimen, the 
episode of Savitri and Satyavan. The accounts of battles, 
again, have been here and there condensed to good effect. 


In result, Romesh Chunder s versions, while they are doubt- 
less faithful to the ispirit of their originals, have none of the 
looseness and prolixity tha,t mar the modern recensions of these 
ancient epics. Similar condensed editions of the originals, with 
prose translations in English, have recently been published by 
Messrs. G. A. Natesan in Madras. 


If Romesh Chunder was wise in not attempting a full- 
length translation of the original epics, he was no less wise in 
discovering in the Locksley HM metre an ideal equivalent to 
the original anushtubhs. The seeming bareness, spareness, the 
utter simplicity, the insinuating cadence and magic of the an- 
ushtubhs of Valmiki and Vyasa, unique as they are and hence 
as inimjitable as Homer's hexameters or Dante^ terza rirna, can 
hardly be wholly reproduced even by such a master-craftsman 
as Romesh Chunder. But, such as it is, Romesh Chunder has 
done his very best, and the norm of his verse is elastic enough 
to reproduce many of the potent spells of the originals. 

It is not possible, within the limits of this book, to give 
adequate illustrative extracts to show Romesh Chunder's ad- 
mirable metrical resilience and mastery of phrase. We have 
descriptions of nature, so painstakingly accurate and so suf- 
fused with a colouring ofi the imagination, as in this passage on 
the Nilgiri mountains : 

" Mark the shadowing rain and tempest," Rama to his brother 

As on Malya's cloud-capped ranges in their hermit-guise they 

" Massive clouds like rolling mountains gather thick and gather 

Lurid lightnings glint and sparkle, pealing thunders shake the 



Pregnant with the ocean moisture by the solar ray instilled, 
Now the skies like fruitful mothers are with grateful waters 

filled ! 

Mark the folds of cloudy masses, ladder-like of smooth ascent, 
One could almost reach the Sun-god, wreath him with a wreath 

of scent, 
And when glow these heavy masses red and white with evening's 

One could almost deem them sword-cuts branded by some 

heavenly foe ! ' 

We have fury itself turned into poetry in these words which 
Dasaratha addresses to his wife, Kaikeyi, who has just asked for 
Rarna's banishment and Bharata's coronation : 

" Traitress to thy king and husband, fell destroyer of thy race, 
Wherefore seeks thy ruthless rancour Rama rich in righteous 


Traitress to thy kith and kindred, Rama loves thee as thy own, 
Wherefore then with causeless vengeance as a mother hate thy 

Have I courted thee, Kaikeyi, throned thee in my heart of 

Nursed thee in my home and bosom like a snake of poisoned 


Have I courted thee, Kaikeyi, placed thee on Ayodhya's throne, 
That my Rama, loved of people, thou shouldst banish from his 

own ? " 

And 1 here, piling simile upon simile, the poet turns the pathos 
of Abhimanyu's death itself into poetry that is truly too deep 
for tears : 

Like a tusker of the forest by surrounding hunters slain, 
Like a wood-consuming wild-fire quenched upon the distant 

Like a mountain-shaking tempest spent in force and hushed 

and still, 
Like the red resplendent day-god setting on the western hill, 


Like the moon serene and beauteous quenched in eclipse dark 

' and pale, 
lifeless slumbered Abhimanyu when the softened starlit fell ! 

^Whether in portraiture or in dialogue, in description or 
in exhortation, Romesh Chunder isi always convincing ; alike in 
depicting the horrors of war and in delineating the primary 
human emotions, he shows himself worthy of his originals ; 
and that is the measure of his greatness as an Indo-Anglian 



We have in the main discussed the work of the Indo- 
Anglians who hailed from Bengal ; but other provinces were 
not slow to follow in her foot-steps and considerable literary 
activity, in English as also in the local vernaculars, was 
presently evident in Madras, in the United Provinces, in the 
Punjab, and especially, in Bombay. Behramji Malabari and 
his pioneering work deserve to be stressed here, for he symboliz- 
ed a type that is fast disappearing from our midst. 

Three or four decades ago, there was hardly a cultured 
Indian or Englishman who had not heard of Behramji Mala- 
bari. It was universally taken for granted that he was eminent 
in his own sphere as were Dadabhoy and Ramkrishna 
in theirs. Higher grade school pupils all over India used to 
be taught a life-sketch of Malabari ; consequently, he used to 
rub shoulders with a Sir Salar Jung, an Iswar Chandra Vidya- 
sagar and a Pachayappa Mudaliar within the well-thumbed 
covers of school texts. A publicist, an ardent social reformer, 
a poet in English as well as in Gujarati, and a facile and 
Torceful writer of English prose, Malabari's position in the 
scroll of eminent Indians seemed quite secure. 


And yet, how many among the younger generation of 
to-day have even heard of Behramji Malabari's name? A 
new stage has now been set ; other actors are playing their 
several pants ; and the Indian scene bewilderingly merges with 
the international scene, and confounds everybody. These are 
the days of hysteria, of quick lunches, of blitzkrieg, of 
megalomania and race hatred. We have our new leaders, our 
new slogans, our new writers. However, Malabari was a path- 
finder in the trackless jungles of those less spacious days, and 
we owe it to ourselves to acknowledge our debt to this daring, 
pioneer who broke fresh ground in many fields of activity. 


Mr. Dayaram Gidumal's biographical sketch of Mala- 
bari, with an appreciative Introduction by Florence Night- 
ingale, was published over Fisher Unwin's imprint nearly 
fifty years ago. The burden of the story is that "slow rises 
worth by poverty depressed." Malabari was born in 1853 - 
in Surat and lost both his parents early. He adored his 
mother ; and her death, when he was but in his early teens, 
was a turning point in his life. When barely twelve years 
old, Malabari was compelled to earn his livelihood. He 
taught pupils in the mornings and evenings, and in between 
studied in the Surat Mission School under the Rev, Mr. Nixon. 
Malabari retained to the last the liveliest feelings of gratitude 
towards Mr. and Mrs. Nixon. 

A few years later, Malabari migrated to Bombay to sit 
Jor/the^ Matriculation Examination. He settled * down in 
Bombay, passed the Matriculation at the fourth attempt 
(thanks to his pet aversion, Arithmetic), and in due course 
became an author, an editor, a publicist and a social reformer 
a sort of William Cobbett for the teeming millions of India. 


Malabar! published in quick succession Niti Vinod in 
Gujarati and The Indian Muse in English Garb (1876). The 
former was called by Rast Goftar " the first book of the first 
Parsi poet". The Indian Muse was, perhaps, the earliest 
considerable collection of English verse to be published from 
Bombay by an Indian writer. Dr. John Wilson remarked that 
the verses " displayed an uncommonly intimate knowledge 
of the English language " and that they were " the outcome 
of a gifted mind, trained to habits of deep meditation and fresh 
and felicitous expression." 

Several of the pieces in the book had been composed when 
Malabari was no more than a pupil-teacher at Surat, and some 
of them therefore deal with .his Surat experiences. The 
portraits of his early preceptors are forceful and arresting 
Mjnochehr Daru was 

A man mysterious 1 of the Magus tribe 
A close astrologer, and a splendid *cribe 
A faithful oracle of dead Hormuzd's will- - 
A priest, a patriarch, and a man of **kill. 

Of another teacher, a crueller and fiercer one, Malabari writes 
with some pungency : 

With pointed paws his fierce moustache he'd twirl, 
And at his culprits the direst vengeance hurl 
Sharp went the whizzing whip, fast flew the cane, 
And he fairly caper' d in his wrath insane. 

The youth's idealism is well expressed in these lines : 

There's pleasure luring me to ruin ; I'll never the siren 

If once my soul is wrecked, she's naught but shame to wed 

indeed ; 

But no, I'd honest death prefer to being Pleasure's knave ; 
So up and on to glory, soul, glory or the grave. 


These verses are certainly creditable in a lad who had all 
along been compelled to battle with adverse circumstances and 
had been denied the privileges of a formal and liberal educa- 

Malabari's subsequent poetical work consists of a few 
commendatory pieces and the Gujarat Wilson Virah and Sarod- 
i-Ettefak. Mention may also be made of his translation of 
Max MulleFsTHibbert Lectures on "the Origin and Growth 
"of Religion, illustrated by the Religions of Jndja ". While 
Malabari was personally responsible for only about one-half 
of the Gujarati translation, it was nevertheless due to his un- 
tiring efforts that tjie publication of the five translations proved 
at all feasible. For India and for the time, it was truly a 
giant undertaking, and Malabari alone could have pushed it 
through to a successful conclusion. 


Of Malabari's prose writings, special reference should be 
made to Gujarat and Gujaratis (1882) and The Indian Eye 
~bn English Life (1893). The former is racily written, f Mala- 
bari seeg clearly and writes with unfailing zest and humour. 
The scenes are recaptured with an uncanny exactitude, and 
every touch tells. The Holi, the Aghori Mendicant, the Mar- 
wari, the Vaishnava Maharaj, they are pictured in all their 
crudity and their glamour and their horror. Things have 
changed considerably during the past seventy years : and hence 
there is all the greater reason why we should be thankful to 
Malabari for the account of an age that is no more. 

The Indian Eye is a disarming account of Malabari's 
European tour. "With all its unattractiveness ", says Mala- 
bari, "London is still a Mecca for the traveller in search of 
truth, a Medina of rest for the persecuted or the perplexed 
in spirit. Though the centre of perpetual motion, it is still 
the Persepolis of human grandeur and repose." 


Malabar! made many contacts in London ; he interested 
the powers that be on the urgency of social reform legislation 
in India ; he visited many continental cities, enriching the 
store of his varied experience, 

His book is written with pellucid candour and there is 
no straining after effect. His generalizations are as natural 
as are his apostrophes. His appreciation of the Passion Play 
at Ober-Ammergau has the authentic ring about it. " Dear 
old Bobby", he addresses the London policeman, "roughly 
tender in your attention^ to all in need, seldom losing your 
temper, though distracted by a score of tongues at a time, 
or your presence of mind among the confusion and clatter 
ofe a hundred feet." 

Malabari's book was well received in England ; and in 
India, The Times closed a long, appreciative review of the book 
with this statement : " No Indian journalist has done more 
than Mr. Malabari to maintain between the two races a feeling 
of friendliness based upon reciprocal respect." 

It 'is not necessary to dwell here in detail on Malabari's 
public activities ; they belong to Indian history, not to Indo- 
Anglian literature. Malabari's stewardship of The Indian 
Nation raised in the eyes of the world the standing and status 
of Indian journalism. He was an indefatigable propagandist 
in favour of the raising of the " age of consent." He con- 
cluded his pamphlet on The Indian Nation (1894) with these 
ominous words. "A wife at 10, a widow at 12, (in many 
cases the age limits stand much lower), a mother at 13 these 
are monstrosities in the face of whichat is madness to think of 
a consistent, progressive public life." Like many another 
patriot, Malabari firmly believed that political progress was 
impossible before the eradication of the many social evils in 
our midst. His pioneering work in the matter of social re- 
forms bore ultimate fruit in the raising of the " age of 



consent " and in the focussing of public attention on the plight 
of the Indian widow. 

Behramji Malabari died in 1912, mourned by his many 
friends and admirers. He had lived a blameless life, never 
tampering with weights and measures ; and he left behind 
him an unsullied memory, a great example. 




In any study of the contribution of Indians to English 
literature, a place must certainly be found for the work of 
Nagesh Wishwanath Pai. It is a matter for regret that while 
early Indo-Anglians like Toru Dutt, Manmohan Ghose and 
Michael Madhusudhan Dutt are generally well known, there 
are very few indeed who have even heard of Mr. Pai. The 
present writer knows next to nothing about Mr. Pai's life. 
Nagesh Wishwanath was born about the year 1860 ; he 
graduated from St. Xavier's College, Bombay, in 1881 and 
took the LL.B. degree one or two years later. He then prac- 
tised, first as a High Court Pleader in Bombay, and later 
as Government Reader in Sholapur. He published two books, 
Stray Sketches in Chakmakpore (1894) and The Angel of 
Misfortune (1904). He died about 1920. 

Of his two publications, Stray Sketches in Chakmakpore 
from the Note-book of <m Idle Citizen was in prose. It belongs 
to that class of books in which may be included Malabari's 
Gujarat and Gujaratis and Venkataramani's Paper Boats, to 
be noticed later which aim at giving a first hand and sympa- 
thetic interpretation of Indian life through the medium of 
sensitive English prose. Mr. Pai explains his purpose as fol- 


lows : "These sketches are chiefly intended to amuse, but 
the writer is not without hopes that the Western reader will 
find in them sufficient novelty to excite his curiosity and 
interest. JThe main idea has been to give pictures of Indian 
life, pure and simple/' 

Mr. Pai's " Chakmakpore " is any town in India 
Madras, or Belgaum, or Bombay, what you please ; it is, how- 
ever, in a very special sense, the Bombay of forty years ago. 
There are thirty-six sketches in all and they embrace a divert- 
ing variety : the Parsee girl of the period ; the Pooranik ; the 
Pariah dog ; the irritable Sahib ; the Pedagogue ; the Mithai- 
wala ; the Zealous Reformer ; the Medicoes of the Street ; 
the Bairagee ; the Street Singer ; the Mother-in-law ; the Smart 
Student ; the Gowlan ; the Hindu Lady (old school) ; the 
little Street-hawker ; and there are even sketches on the bullock 
and the crow. 

The many specimens of humanity or animate creation that 
figure in Mr. Pai's sparkling pages are all life-like, perennially 
interesting, and absolutely convincing. The average foreigner 
who attempts similar sketches sees India only from the out- 
side, and his knowledge is therefore partial, at times even per- 
verted. Mr. Pai, on the other hand, is rooted in the spiJLioi 
all his sophisticated life in modern Bombay ; he presents 
Indian life from the inside, having as it were seized Jus. 
characters by direct vision^ and hence his portraits are not 
merely vivid and arresting, they are also lit by a sympathy 
"BSTendeafs them to our hearts. Moreover, the book is through- 
oiiFwnften in a simple and homely style that seems singu- 
larly appropriate to Mr. Pai's themes. 


Mr. Pai's next book, The Angel of Misfortune, is a metri- 
cal romance in ten books. 1 1~ consists of over 5000 lilies of 
T>lanK : verse. Mr. Pai's is without doubt one of the best of 


the longer poems that the Indo-Anglians have given us so 
far. The verse is flowing, the story is well-knit and is full 
of incidents that surprise and satisfy ; the atmosphere is wholly 
Indian and the book is redolent of Hindu Culture ; above all, 
the book is eminently readable. It does deserve to be more 
generally known and read in India and abroad. 

Mr. Pai explains in his Preface that the story of the poem 
is founded on two popular Indian legends ; however, " after 
selecting from the materials available such as suited his pur- 
pose, the author has felt himself at liberty to draw on his 
own imagination for the rest. Be that as it may, The Angel 
of Misfortune is a ^coherent whole and not a mere patched-up 

The story of the poem may be briefly summarized here. 
King Vikrama (or Vikramaditya) of Avanti and Ujjain has 
had to surrender his crown to the Angel of Misfortune (Saturn). 
As Vikrama is resting under a banyan tree, leagues away 
from his domains, he sees a crouching tiger ready to spring 
upon two tired horses slaking their thirst in a nearby stream. 
Vikrama gives battle to the tiger and slays it. The owner 
of the horses is a rich jeweller by name Motichand, who now 
gratefully takes Vikrama to Champa, an adjoining city. There 
Vikrama serves the rich Motichand as guard to his treasures. 

Meanwhile, Motichand is commissioned by a neighbour- 
ing king to make a necklace for his queen. When the costly 
necklace is ready, Motichand is overpersuaded by his 'handsome 
wife to allow her to wear it for a day. At the time of her 
bath, she leaves the necklace in the custody of Vikrama. The 
Angel of Misfortune now swoops down in the guise of a swan 
and, in spite of his shafts, carries the necklace away. Vik- 
rama's story is not believed by Motichand and his wife ; 
k he is taken before Champa's ruler who orders that Vikrama 
should be chained to the ground till he dies. It is also decreed 


death to try to feed Vikrama. An aged hermit, who had 
been previously nursed back to health by Vikrama in the woods, 
pleads with the king of Champa, but in vain. He therefore 
betakes himself to Avanti to beg King Vikrama (not knowing 
that Vikramai was really in Champa, the victim of its ruler's 
wrath) to save the condemned man from the wrath of Champa's 

Vikrama is at last overcome by fatigue and swoons. An 
old widow, disregarding the King's edict, sprinkles water on 
Vikrama's temples. He recovers, but the widow herself is now 
taken before the King. Her unselfishness and tender humanity 
moves the King, who permits her to tend Vikrama, though 
still in chains, in her own hut. Vikrama recovers his normal 
health and helps his benefactress by daily driving the ox round 
ber oil mill He is now care-free and sings in joyful abandon. 
His music is accidentally overheard by Champa's princess, 
Indira, who calls him out. It is the day of Holi, Kamadeva's 
day : and whoever loved that loved not at first sight ? Chained 
and in disgrace, Vikrama^ is still the purest of the pure, the 
braivest and the best in Indira's eyes. The swarthy Angel of 
Misfortune tempts Vikrama yet once more he could gain his 
heart's desire if only he would break his promise to his whilom 
suppliants. But Vikrama is Vikrama still, and he resolves to 
lose Indira herself, rather than become a perjurer ! 

Even the Swarthy Angel is appeased at last. She would 
now repair her wrongs ; she compels Champa's King to hold 
a durbar to which all are invited, among them Vikrama in 
chains. Publicly the Angel confesses her part in the theft 
of the necklace and returns it to Vikrama. Motichand and 
the King profusely apologise to Vikrama ; his chains are re- 
moved ; and he is now the guest of the King. 

The aged and enraged hermit has in the meantime reached 
Avanti and brought with him a huge army to the environs 


of Champa. The Angel has surrendered Avanti's crown to 
the army leaders and asked them to seek their rightful King 
in Champa. Their emissary threatens to destroy Champa if 
its King fails to restore Vikrama to his army, Champa's King 
is very much intrigued by all this, but Vikrama now reveals 
himself, and all is well that ends well ! 

Vikrama now asks for Indira's hand. Mr. Pai here intro- 
duces some delicate irony ; Champa's King and his daughter 
speak at cross-purposes, he pleading for King Vikrama, she 
refusing him, loving in her heart only the ex-prisoner who 
had won her affections on Kamadeva's day. The misunder- 
standings are cleared and she meets Avanti's king alone and, in 
reply to his fervent protestations of love, 

Whilst her youthful heart 
f Beats fast, in tremulous accents answers low 
And sweet, " My lord ! My gracious lord : I am thine." 


From the foregoing summary, it will be seen that Mr. 
Pai's is an interesting and moving story. He is lucky in his 
hero, for Indians respond naturally to stories about Vikrama, 
the great King, the King of Kings. His heroism, his capacity 
for suffering, his manly |>earing, his humanity, these are subtly 
woven into the texture of the poem. The unbending ration- 
alists may object to the introduction of the Swarthy Angel ; 
But Mr. Pai himself calls his poem a " fairy tale " and any- 
how the supernatural is not ruled out in romantic epics. 

The Angel is indeed integral to the scheme of the poem ; 
she is pitted against King Vikrama, ruthless power is in 
conflict with uncompromising virtue. It is the same old theme 
of Hanschandra, of Naia j>f _ Job^Jenacted once again with 
a view to showing virtue ever triumphant in the end. Towards 
Tils 'Enemies', so to call the Angel and Champa's King and 


the rest, Vikrama bears no malice ; he is the true satyagrahi 
and can never harbour sheer violence within. 

Vikrama as portrayed by Mr. Pai is a hero cast in the 
mouGTof Rama himself. He gladly surrenders his crown to 
"save his subjects from misery ; he shows no eagerness to return 
to his kingdom, nor even to get his chains removed ; it is 
only when duty calls him back that he accepts the sacred 
trust of kingship. These words of Mr. Masti Venkatesa lyen- 
gar, though written in a different context, are pertinent to 
King Vikrama as well : " The heroic man does not become 
an exile from power to be free from responsibility. Whether 
on the throne or out of it, his burden is his own. No one 
else can carry it. On the throne he may have some comfort 
along with the toil of kingship ; off the throne he is free of 

the, comfort, not the toil It is the outlook that 

makes acceptance or renunciation great or small.'* 

While, not inappropriately, Vikrama dominates the 
scene, the various other characters too are memorably drawn. 
Indira, the heroine, is an .adorable .creature. Mr. Pai's 
language takes wings as he describes the dawn of her sweet 
adolescence and he almost smothers his heroine under a load 
of finely conceived imagery : 

And now the magic touch of youth has wrought 
A miracle of beauty in her form 
Making what ^as already lovely shine 
With added loveliness, each graceful curve 
And dimple look more 'witching than before, 
And what was soft seem softer, what was bright 
Grow brighter still. And as a tender bud 
Kissed by the sun'si warm beams as it expands, 
Unfolds its hidden wonders to the view ; 
So, here, the ardent rays of youth's bright morn 
Disclose a hundred charms and graces 1 all 
Unknown and unsuspected till they burst 


Upon the startled eye like poet's dream 
Or wondrous vision of the world to come. 

Her loyalty to her heart's promptings, her tender soli- 
citude for Vikrama while yet in chains, her refusal to be over- 
awed by the mere name of a King of Kings, these are among 
the beautiful things in the book. And what can be more 
moving, more in accord with Hindu traditions, than this picture 
of Indira; 

All trembling like a startled fawn now .stands 
The gentle princess, whilst the youthful king 
In burning accents speaks the boundless love 
That fills his generous heart. She modest bends 
Her lovely* head to hide the tell-tale blush 
That might betray the love she would conceal. 
Nor does she boldly raise her lustrous eyes 
To Vikrama's noble face, but shyly steals 
A side-glance, and as it meets by chance 
His ardent gaze, her eye-lids softly droop 
In sweet confusion. 

Similarly, the jeweller Motichand, his wife, the old widow, 
the hermit, and the other minor characters in trie tale are also 
convincingly drawn. In no more than a dozen lines Mr. Pai 
invokes the wan figure of Motichand's aged mother, her eye 
?or the surpassing beauty of the necklace, her motherly pride 
in her son's exquisite craftsmanship, and her silent prayer 
for his continued safety and happiness. In like manner, Mr. 
Pai succeeds in portraying the physiognomy and behaviour of 
men in the mass, whether in moments of jubilation, or of 
awe, or of frenzied alarm. 


As a poet of Nature, too, Mr. Pai's achievements must 
commend themselves to the Indian reader. His birds and beasts, 
his flowers and trees, his seasons and his rills and his dingles, 
are decidedly and recognizably Indian. He writes at times 


with a Keatsian sensuousness ; and his admiration for Tenny- 
son is evidenU Like Spenser, he loves to elaborate the feli- 
cities of bowers of bliss and the blossoming of youthful love. 
The description of a summer noonday with which the poem 
opens is excellent : 

Hushed is now 

The mingled din of insect, bird, and beast 
That in the cool and freshening air of morn 
Made vocal all the leafy wood around. 

The description of Vasanta (Spring) in Book IV is even better 
as a piece of embroidery. "Like the first hopes of youth, 
Wasanta comes": 

He seems at first to tread on tip-toe o'er 
Tree, shrub, and creeping plant, as if he feared 
To wake them from their wintry sleep .... 
And then the delicate lilies on the lake 
That revel in the sun's resplendent beams- ; 
And tender kumuda flowers that coyly wait 
The silver moonlight, and then softly ope 
Their beauteous face, and smile upon the calm 
And cloudless heavens ; the overpowering breath 
Of the bright golden champah, and the soft 
But exquisite odour of the modest buds 
Of malati; all, all are strangely sweet 
And 'witching to the sense. 

JVlr. Pai thus perceives Nature's habiliments accurately 
and sketches them beautifully. The elephant, the tiger, the 
swan, sunrise and noonday, the feast of Love, the cloudless 
azure of the skies, the aerial courtship of the Indian butter- 
flies, they are all verbally re-created and securely niched in 
the poem. 

Mr. Pai is essentially a poet, interested in the values and 
verities that constitute our cultural heritage ; occasionally, how- 
ever^ the" social reformer speaks, though ever so insinuatingly. 
Thus moans Vikrama's benefactress. 


A poor widow I 

of our mother Earth's 

Unhappy daughters one 

Elsewhere Mr. Pai remarks : 

For thus it was 

Of yore in thte rich sunny land of Ind. 
Not less as now was helpless little child 
And half-grown youth together tied for life 
With ancient words they scarce could understand ; 
For warriors bold and lovely women claimed 
Freedom to give their hearts where'er they chose. 

But such passages do not impair either the integrity or the 
unity of the poem. 

Mr. Pai's versification is uniformly good. Blank verse is a 
difficult instrument to handle, but Mr. Pai cleverly wields it. 
"His is a creditable achievement, truly indigenous in setting, in 
theme, in sentiments. In conclusion, let me extract the follow- 
ing passage from an article in East & West, contributed by 
Dr, Michael Macmillan, sometime Principal of the Bombay 
Elphinstone College : " It is impossible for a European writer, 
howeVer keen may be his powers of observation, and however 
richly endowed he may be with imagination, to thoroughly 
understand * Indian life and character and look upon Indian 
palaces, gardens, jungles, pageants, and all the other richly 
coloured elements of Indian surroundings with the eye of a 
native of the soil. Thus it appears to us that neither 
Mr. Moore, nor Southey, nor Sir Edwin Arnold, nor Mr. Rud- 
yard Kipling, nor Sir Alfred Lyall, nor Professor Bain of 
Poona, in their most brilliant efforts to give poetic expression 
to the glamour of the gorgeous East, have succeeded in produc- 
ing as true a picture of India as the less ambitious and more 
homely verses of the author of The Angel of Misfortune." 




Rabindranath Tagore's essays and verses appeared in* 
Bengali periodicals as early as 1875 ; his moving lines on Death- 
were dictated shortly before he passed away on the 7th of 
August 1941. During the intervening period of over sixty- 
five years Tagore rarely, if ever at all, allowed a year to pass- 
without adding something fresh and vital to the heritage of 
Bengali literature, and to a lesser extent, of English literature. 

Rabindranath was born in the rich and noble family of 
the Tagores on the 6th of May, 186J. Jlis grandfather, Dwar~ 
Jcanath Tagore, had been a friend and cePworker of Raja, 
"Rammohan Roy ; his father, Debendranath, the Maharshi, had' 
been a pillar of the Brahma Samaj movement. Rabindra- 
nath was thus heir to great traditions. He lost his mother 
when he was quite a young boy ; and his father was not often* 
at home. Young Rabindranath, therefore, lived his own life 
and it was essentially a lonely life. He came in time to. 
love loneliness, even to make a religion of it. "There are 
many paradoxes in the world and one of them is this, that 
wherever the landscape is immense, the sky unlimited, clouds 
intimately dense, feelings unfathomable that is to say, where 
infinity is manifest its fit companion is one solitary person." 
It was thus Tagore later generalized from his own apprehen- 

Tagore was, of course, no misanthrope far from it ; he 
loved all the creations of man and God and loved to live amidst 
them, but the infinity of solitude charmed, chastened, and 
made a different man of him. jCtat of this mystic 'union of 
Man and Nature great poetry was bom", and" born again and 1 
again. ^ "* 



(The many-sided achievements of Tagore almost take one's 
breath away. Lyrics, poetic plays, plays of ideas, social plays, 
novels, short stories, essays in criticism, philosophical essays, 
autobiographical fragments, letters, addresses, educational dis- 
sertations, these have uninterruptedly flowed from his pen.) He 
was an actor, a j>nxlucer, a musician, a painter, and juplatr 
fon^speafcer oi^xtraordinary power. He played a conspicuous 
part in the activities'of Brahma Sainaj ; he was a prominent 
figure during the 'Partition of Bengal' agitation, though he 
did not subscribe to its wilder heresies ; Jbte made his Visva^ 
Bharati at Shantiniketan the rallying-centre of international 
culture ; he travelled the world over, raising India's stature in 
the process ; and the figure of the aged poet, with the flowing 
beard and immaculate white clothes, soon became the visible 
sypnbol of India's antiquity, her reserves of poetry and her 
living philosophy. 

During the earlier half of his career, the storm of con- 
troversy broke now and then over hinn, and threatened to 
engulf him. However, by the time he was fifty years old, 
Bengal as one man was ready to honour him. The meeting 
on January 28, 1912 at the Calcutta Town Hall was the 
homage paid by the Bengalees as a whole to their Poet Laure- 

During his subsequent English tour, some of his English 
renderings from the original Bengali, while still in manuscript, 
elicited the unqualified approbation of people like W. B. Yeats, 
Rothenetein, May Sinclair, Professor Bradley, Henry Nevinson 
and othersi Gitanjali ( 1912) was published in England 

Yeats's wellloiown Introduction, in the course of which he 
Kan*"*'! have carried the "manuscript of these translations 
about with me for days, readling it in railway trains, or on 
the top of omnibuses and in restaurants, and I have often had 
to dose it lest some stranger should see how much it 


moved me. These lyrics which are in the origin- 
al, my Indians tell me, full of subtlety of rhythm, of untrans- 
latable delicacies of colour, of metrical invention display in 
their thought a world I have dreamed of all my life long." 

Gitmjati took the English world by storm. Presently, in 
19137 Rabindranath was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. 
Although the honour was really won by Bengali literature, the 
Indo-Anglians, not unjustifiably perhaps, wished to share the 
great joy and pluck from it inspiration for creative work in the 
fufture. Thus the award was a major land-mark in the history 
of Indo-Ariglian literature. 


One should, however, carefully guard against over-estimat- 
ing the importance of the Nobel award. In Mr. Nagendranath 
Gupta's words, " For Rabindranath the Nobd prize has served 

as an introduction to the wiest for the rest the Nobel 

Prize has been of no more use to him than his cast off knight- 
hood." The lionising of the poet that the award inevitably led 
to, really depressed the sensitive poet. He was utterly sincere 
when he remarked : " I shall never get any peace again. I 
shall be worried with appeals, all kinds of people will be 
writing to me. My heart sank when I saw those people at 
Bombay and realized that they were going to make a public 
show of me there." 

However, this " introduction " to the west was no negli- 
gible matter. It put himr- and through him, modern India on 
the map of world literature. Indians realized that at last the 
West was paying homage to the East. " A poef si mission is to 
attract the voice .which is yet inaudible in the air ; to inspire 
faith in the dream which is unfulfilled ; to bring the earliest tid- 
ings of the unborn flower to a skeptic world" It was 


Tagore's^work gave a jtandmg and an inspiring, status to th$ 
I^ian^renaissance^ making the fulfilment of its visions now- 
only a matter of time. 

Tagore's vitality and fecundity as a writer were truly 
amazing. There are about two hundred items in the biblio- 
graphy of his Bengali writings. He wrote nearly two thousand 
songs. His plays are as numerous as they are varied. Even 
his English translations constitute a respectable bulk. Collec- 
tions like Gitanjali, The Gardener, and The Crescent Moon 
were put into their English garb by Tagore himself. Io plays 
like Chitra, Tagore altered the original in many places when 
he produced his English . version. Notwithstanding ail this 
ceaseless activity, his work is not unequal, in the sense Words- 
worth's or Coleridge's work is unequal. Rabindranath's lyrical 
poetry seems to suffer, when taken in mass, from a sort of 
sameness, but not from flatness or grotesqueness. When col- 
lections of hisi poems appeared in English one by one, each was 
a revelation, and it was received with a chorus^ of applause. 
English and "American critics found therm " of supreme~beauty'', 
" of trance like beauty " ; they thought that " to begin chanting 
these lyrics aloud is to pass! majestically into a realm of spiri- 
tual ecstasy " ; they wondered if the rhythm of the lyrics was 
not comparable to that of the Song of Songs. 

In course of time, however, as the bulk of the lyrics seem- 
ed to increase, and especially when the omnibus Collected Poems 
and Plays was published, the magic seemed somehow to fade 
away, and the critics sang a different tune : " much of Tagore's 
writing is only a kind of mellifluous musing or is even lost, to 
quote his own words, ' in the* endless mist of vague sweetness'. . 
even his expression of ecstasy is apt to be diffuse and this 
diffuseness is the more obvious when we have his work as here 
in bulk." 



An antidote to this feeling would be to read Rabindra- 
nath's longer poems which have, unfortunately, not reached as 
many people as have his shorter song-offerings and fluent 
musings. One of his great poems is Sea Waves, written to 
commemorate the wreck of a pilgrim ship carrying nearly 
^E"tRMsatKi passengers to Puri in 1887. Th6 obcasioh arid the 
"moving poem it called forth remind one of Gerard Manley 
Hopkins's The Wreck of the Deutschkmd. Even in translation, 
the surge and the roar, " the burl of the fountains of air ", the 
" buck and the flood of the wave ", are reproduced ; the Storm, 
the ogress shouting " Give ! give ! give ! ", these are vividly, 
fearfully, unforgettably visualized. 

v Again, in The Child, one of the few poems written 
originally in English by Tagore, there is an impressionistic 
description; of men and women of all kinds to the hypo- 
thetical shrine of fulfilment. Ibsen's Brand is reincarnated 
in the poem. Men from the valley of the Nile, the banks 
of the Ganges, from Tibet and the "dense dark tangle of 
savage wildernesses", all gather in one place and start on 
their journey ; the trials are unendurable to everyone except 
the Man of Faith ; he is denounced by his erstwhile followers 
as a false prophet. None the less they reach the Journey's 
End ; the child is discovered ; 

They kneel down, the king and the beggar, the saint and 

the sinner, the wise and the fool, and cry : 
'Victory to Man, the new-born, the ever-living.' 

And of Rabindranath's Farewell to Heaven, Urvasi, Ahalya, 
The Stream of Being and The Taj Mahal, which are among 
the moat sustained flights of his muse, it is difficult to speak 
with moderation. They seem to be perfect of their kind, impli- 
cating universes of thought and feeling ; they seem to be rough 


approximations to the traditional " music of the spheres "so 
inwrought are they " in forms that luxuriate into arabesque, 
in colours that shimmer into iridescence, in speech that kindles 
into imagery." And the crowning wonder of all seems to be 
Urvasi, a bursting scream of adoration at the sight of Ideal 
Beauty, the enchantress of Life and Love: 

In the assembly of Gods, when thou dancest in ecstasy 

of joy, O swaying wave, Urvasi, 
The companies of billows in mid-ocean swell and dance, 

beat on beat ; 

In the crests of the corn the skirts of the Earth tremble : 
From thy necklace stars fall off in the sky ; 
Suddenly in the breast of man the heart forgets itself, 

The blood dances ! 

Suddenly in the horizon thy zone bursts, 
Ah, wild in abandon ! 

Rightly Dr. Edward Thompson, who is responsible for the 
above rendering, finds in this poem "a meeting of East and 
West indeed, a glorious tangle, of Indian mythology, modern 
science, and legends of European romance." ) Nor is Mr. 
Nagen.dranath Gupta, who has given us a beautiful verse ren- 
dering of the whole poem in English, off the mark when he 
affirms that the poem " scintillates and glitters like the Kohi- 
noor in the poet's Golconda of flawless jewels." 


^As a novelist, Tagore's fame rests on Gora, The Wreck, 
and The Home and the World. The Wreck is an Immature 
work, although it is interesting enough ; Ramesh is a Bengali 
edition of Oblomov, but is scarcely convincing. And the story 
is full of improbabilities and coincidences that leave a distaste 
in the end. 

The Home and the World adopts the technique followed, 
among others, by Browning in The Ring and the ' Book and 


Wilkie Collins in his The Woman in the White. The three 
chief characters, Nikhil, his wife Bimala, and their friend, 
Sandip, tell their own stories in the first person. Nikhil is 
a curious amalgam of Prince Muishkin and Stavrogin. His 
goodness is mistaken for weakness by others ; his sense of justice 
is denounced as treachery to the national cause. The clap-trap 
that passes for patriotism deeply pains him : " What I really 
feel is this, that those who cannot find food for their enthusiasm 
in a knowledge of their country as it is, or those who cannot 
love men just because they are men, who needs must shout 
and deify their country in order to keep up their excitement, 
these love excitement more than their country." There is 
no doubt Nikhil is a partial projection of Tagore himself. 

The Home and the World was greeted indifferently on 
acpount of its political implications. JBut Gora was a favourite . 
from the beginning with Tagore's admirers. Its hero, Gour- 
mohan, is the son of an English lady brought up in a Hindu 
household since the very day of his birth. He is presented 
to us therefore as the fusion of the best that the West and 
East can boast of. Gora," albeit he is a symbol, is very 
well realized in flesh and blood. 

As a short-story writer, again, Tagore has some notable 
triumphs to his credit. Hungry Stones, Mashi, and similar 
collections bespeak the range of his art. These are not stories 
really, but are analogous to prose lyrics in fiction. The emo- 
tional background is the main thing ; the plot spins itself 
out effortlessly, inevitably almost. Tagore plumbs the depths 
of the human heart, and he has an understanding of women, 
their superficial wiles and their reserves of devotion and sacri- 
fice ; Asha and Minnie and Kusum and Souravi and Bindya 
Bhashini are so many variations on the same theme of Woman 
who serves Man, and so serving fulfils her destiny. 


Likewise, Tagore, " being rooted and grounded in the love 
of all the loveliness of earth ", is able to transmit to his readers 
something of this love, something of this rooted kinship with 
Nature and " dear and dogged man." Tagore's novels and 
short stories are thus the composite testament of a seer's ripe 
jwSbmj they ^suggest a way of life, but. more through^artistic 
implication than propagandist iteration. 
^^There is" not' space here to~speaS: in detail of Tagore's 
dramas. Some of them, Chitra and Sacrifice, King and Queen 
and Post Office, have proved very popular in English. jTagore 
had been writing plays during almost every period of his 
enormous career. Their range is therefore very wide ; some 
are social studies reminding one of the plays of Henrik Ibsen ; 
some are tragedies that take our minds back to the great Eliza- 
bethans ; some are soaked in symbolism, recalling Maeterlinck's 
Pelleas and Melismde or Hauptmann's Hannele ; there are 
others still, seemingly fragile and slight, that shift the action 
to the theatre of the soul. 

A multitude of characters people these plays Ila, Queen 
Sumitra, Raghupati, Aparna, Chitra and Arjuna, Malini, 
Kama and Kunti, Sati, the King of the Dark Chamber. Many 
of the plays no doubt seem to suffer from a thinness of content, 
a poverty of action, when merely read. But we have it on 
good authority that when they are seen and these plays, one 
and all of them, are meant to be seen, on the stage, they 
"are a delight which never falters from the first word to the 
last." Only on the stage the fluid visions crystallize, the words 
acquire a spiral of meaning, and the music and the pageantry 
coalesce into a noble synthesis. 

, V 

Rabindranath Tagore has been different things to different 
men. Some are mainly attracted by Sadhana and The Reli- 


gion oi Man; some make a habit of frequently dipping into 
Thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore, culled and edited by C. F. 
Andrews ; some read his books on Nationalism and Person- 
ality, his letters and his addresses ; some like his poems short, 
others regret he has written no poem of epic magnitude ; some 
read the short story, The Cdbulliwallah, again and again with 
tears in their eyes ; some speculate on his philosophy and dis- 
course on his symbolism. 

Tagore's genius shot out in many directions, dazzling and 
giving light ; and all through his life Tagore sought beauty 
and sought fcappiness, sought happiness through beauty. He 
sought beauty In -children, found it, and exhibited it in books 
like The Crescent Moon the beauty of innocence. He sought 
beauty in boys and girls, found in them the beauty of the 
gradual unfolding of the human personality ; he knew that 
as a teacher, and only as a teacher, he could come in daily and 
intimate contact with boys and girls, and hence arose the multi- 
foliate edifice at Shantiniketan. 

Tagore sought beauty, again, in Man in relation to other 
men and in relation to Nature ; Love and Friendship and 
Natural piety, these the poet found and portrayed in many a 
poem in Gitmjdi, The Gardener, and The Cycle of Spring. 
Tagore went further ; he saw man in relation to tradition, 
the immemorial culture of the Hindus the Vedas, the Upani- 
shads and the Gita and more generally the heritage of all 
Indians, including such a wonder of architecture as the Taj ; 
and he found the beauty of establishing a profound harmony 
with the springs of our great traditions. 

Above all, Tagore saw Man in relation to the Univefse, 
to God sought the beauty of Holiness, and found it too ! 
Tagore's life was thus one long endeavour to reach Beauty 
to scale one by one its heights and so, even so, to realize 


happiness here and now. He sought it and found it ; he 
presently lost it, resought beauty once again, and found it once 
more. When the emotional adventure was in full swing, he 
wrote poetry, he sang his piercing songs ; when the adventure 
was over for the time being and reflection set in, he wrote 
his philosophical essays and treatises. It was the same Tagore 
of course who wrote all his works ; the emphasis varied, that 
was all. 

We are too near to his age to be able to 'place' him. 
Judged by any standards whatsoever, Tagore's achievements 
must compel recognition. He is not of India's only, but the 
world's. He has given us his gifts lavishly, and a life-time 
of reverent study is not enough to take in all that he has 
given. He embodied in his life and work some of the character- 
istics of the great Rishis of old ; a kavi like Valmiki^ _a 
Brahmarishi like Vasistha, and a Rajarishi and karmayogin 
like Vishwamitra. What then, for us, is the great fact of 
Rishi Rabindranath's achievement? He was a messenger of 
an immense future to come ; " he has knocked at our gate 
and all the bars have given way. Our doors have burst open." 
It only remains for us to gather the harvest while we may. 




Professors of English are not necessarily poets ; indeed, 
professor-poets are the exceptions rather than the rule, and 
this holds good as much in India as in England. A Matthew 
Arnold, an Abercrombie, an Edmund Blunden have shown that 
the thing is not impossible ; so have Indo-Anglian professors 
like Seshadri, Chettur and Manmohan Ghose, who have all 


left behind them a creditable body of English verse, some of 
which is poetry undeniable. 

The late Professor P. Seshadri began his career in Madras 
and Salem, but subsequently made his mark as an educationist 
in Benares, Cawnpore and Ajmere. He visited England and 
Japan and made valuable foreign contacts ; he was a good 
speaker and vivacious conversationalist ; and he was reputed 
to be an inspiring teacher of English literature. His works 
include a monograph on the Anglo-Indian poet, John Leyden, 
a brochure on Anglo-Indian poetry, a hand-book on Benares, 
and the following volumes of verse : Bilhana (1914) ; Sonnets 
(1914) ; Champak Leaves (19(23) ; and Vanished Hours 
(1925). He died, rather suddenly, in 1941. 

Seshadri's prose works need not detain us : they needed 
to be done, and they were done well. Bilhana is a narrative 
poem of about 800 lines, based upon the original Sanskrit. The 
theme had already been treated by Sir Edwin Arnold in his 
ChauTabdnphasika> but the tale was worth telling yet once 
again, ( The poet Bilhana is employed by Panchala's King 
to teach his daughter, Yamini ; a curtain separates teacher from 
the pupil at tuition time ; but love overwhelms them and they 

are secretly united : 


Their lives had found the highest heaven on earth ; 

The golden dreams of sweet romance now stood 

Revealed in crystal shape ; and thence their days' 

Were such that song of hallowed fire could draw 

Its vital, moving breath from them, and blaze 

To glorious form .... 

The lovers closed their minds to yawning gulfs 

That royal wrath may ope beneath their feet ; 

They kissed the blossoming flower unaware 

Of thorns that lurk, or bees that hide their sting 

Within its perfumed walls of tender touch. 


The King comes to know of their secret and orders the 
poet's execution. Bilhana's lament is justly famous and is 
sufficiently moving even in Seshadri's English rendering : 

. . . Like long-lost knowledge speeding back 
In sudden swelling flight, she fills my mind 
With bliss intoxicant. The full-orbed moon 
Swims not in greater glory up the heavens 
Than she within my sight ; her radiant youth 
13 dower which goddesses may like to own 
And love .... 

The reprieve comes at the last moment, and: 

as her eyes beheld 

'Her lover's palanquin now sway its course 
Towards the palace-gates, she darted down 
To meet her lord and all was endless 1 joy, 
And blessedness. 

Seshadri's blank verse is competent rather than beautiful : 
he is more at home as a writer of sonnets, some of which are 
very good indeed. It is no doubt true that Seshadri seldom 
rises to sheer lyrical heights. The emotion is almost always 
tranquillized and subdued. He is at his best in rendering 
literary criticism in terms of poetry as in the sonnets on Toru 
Dutt, Romesh Chunder, Dante, Gabriel Rossetti, Tolstoy and 
Jayadeva ; others on historical or legendary themes those on 
Krishnakumari, Jebunissa's Lover and the Rajput Queen, for 
instance are hardly less successful. Simply as the tempera- 
mental expression of a wistful mood, the following sonnet is 
quite a little triumph and may be quoted here in full : 

Which look of yours is graven on my breast ? 

Is it the one, when, with that gentle smile 
Of yours, you hailed me with a kindly zest 

That evening? Or when we drove awhile 
Beyond the town, in neighbour forest-shades, 

You wondered at the mighty wrecks of time 


Scattered about those hallowed, silent snades'? 

When bending on my latest book of rhyme 
You wished to know each song ? Or, when that night, 

The full orbed moon aglow upon your face ; 
You gazed with rapture from the terraced-height 

Upon the Ganges draped in dazzling rays? 
Or when that morn you slowly said, 4 farewell ', 
Struggling with varied thoughts which seemed to swell ? 

This and some of the other sonnets A Wish, On the 
Ganges, The Return and An Hourin Seshadri's last volume 
of sonnets were obviously inspired by the memory of his wife 
to whom it was touchingly inscribed with a quotation from 
Catullus . 

Thy death has 1 shivered all my pride, 
And all my house is in the grave with thee, 
Yea, all my happiness with thee is dead 
Which in thy lifetime on thy sweet love fed. 

These lines give the key-note of the sonnets included in Vanish- 
ed Hours. During the last fifteen years of his life, Seshadri 
wrote very little* poetry, engrossed as he was in the rigour and 
routine of administrative and teaching work. 


Govinda Krishna Chettur had a brilliant academic career 
in Madras before he proceeded to Oxford. His innate poetic 
sensibility was nurtured and patterned in the intangible, other- 
world atmosphere of Oxford. Returning to India, he became 
Principal of the Government College, Mangalore, and quickly 
established a name for himself as a teacher and writer. 

Chettur published five volumes of verse : Sounds and 
fmages, The Triumph of Lovt, Gumataraya and other sonnets 
for all moads, The Temple Tank and other poems, and The 
Shadow of God. A collection of short stories appeared under 


the title, The Ghdst City (1932). He also published, shortly 
afterwards, a book of Oxford reminiscences entitled, The Last 
Enchantment, which contains several passages of sensitive and 
eloquent prose. Under his editorship, A Government College 
Miscellany became the best college journal in India and was 
favourably noticed, once or twice, by John 0' London's Weekly. 
His premature death in 1935 was a distinct loss to Indo-Anglian 

Chettur's first book of verse, Sounds and Images, had a 
good press in India and abroad ; his love-sonnets struck the 
right note of excitement and were found by the Aberdeen Mail 
to be possessed of " a warm, voluptuous, and haunting beauty." 
Mr. Basil Matthews was equally generous in his praise. The 
next three volumes of verse came out simultaneously in 1932 
and were received with a chorus of praise. 

The Triumph of Love, a sonnet-sequence, contains some 
of Chettur's best work. The twenty-three sonnets of this se- 
quence memorably sing of love's perennial perplexities and 
exhilarations. To Chettur the eternal and spiritual aspects of 
love appeal not less than its temporal aspects and carnal attrac- 
tions. There is a vital continuity in the cosmic process in 
spite of the apparent disintegration of material forms and 
human ties. Earth-love cannot be the end of all ; it seems to 
be a pitiful thing when compared with the profound harmony 
of night : 

Here are no fevered changes, late or soon, 
Nor hate, nor lust, nor all-exacting pride : 
Only the passion of a perfect plan 
Controls infinity ; and these abide 
Beyond the sorrows of our mortal span : 
While we, a wanton hour yield and pass, 
Tumultuous-ly, like shadows on the grass. 

Love is not love that can be cabinned within the stern 


barriers of Time and Space^; Love is rather a clue to the mystery, 
of existence, an intimation of the Eternal life to come ; this 
TsTChettur's Testament of Love of Love triumphant and trans- 
figured and it acquires a memorable articulation in the last 
sonnet of the series : 

Who that has lived, and loved, and seen fair things, 

And striven with darkness beating into day, 

With spears dream-pointed, and climbed with wings 

Above the tumult 6t the lesser way, 

Shall speak thereafter slightingly of God ? 

They that have known this brief infinity 

Are one with the immortals. They have trod 

The floors of Heaven in Heavenly company, 

Intoxicate with blessed harmonies. 

So we, the proud inheritors of love, 

Grown God-like in unmortal ecstasies 

Dream, God-wise, of a day that love shall prove 

Magnificently, in the after years, 

Beyond the mortal touch of time or tears. 

The Gumataraya volume also contains three or four finely 
conceived sonnets. Like innumerable others, Chettur too has 
felt the magic of .Gomata's serene majesty, and he rapturously 
breaks out : ' ~"~ 

O Stone ! O Might ! O Heart of man made God ! 
Thou art the emblem of our hope, our prayer, 
Aye, all our strength: and lo, on bended knees, 
With joined hands, and where rapt feet have trod, 
We yield the burden of our soul's despair 
And lifting eyes to thee, our hearts are peace. 

The two sonnets on beauty are better still ; the first asks the 
question, the all too common question, What is Beauty? 
Is it a hope ? a longing ? Nay, answers Chettur ; Beauty is 
a certain sign : 

A sign, that of the living whole, we make 
A part incorporate, however small ; 


A fragment of the passion that doth fall 

In sudden splendour upon hill or lake : 

A symbol, a remembrancer to awake 

The sleeping godhead to a memory 

Of what has been, and what again shall be, 

And still the heart's intolerable ache. 

Nay more ; a pledge, renewed from hour to hour 

In song, in love, in dream, in children's- eyes ; 

Writ on the laughing heavens, the sorrowing sea ; 

Sealed on the morning face of every flower ; 

And, even as the rainbow in the skies, 

A covenant of God's integrity. 

There is another poem on Beauty in The Temple Tank- 
but here the tone is less serious and the trochaic measure gives 
it a dexterous lilt and pleasing fluency : 

Heart of maid ! Here Beauty lingers : 
Seek her gently, touch her fingers .... 
Now she trembles, and her eyes 
Meet the ground in shy surmise. 

In fact, in most of the poems included in The Temple Tank, 
the poet's exuberant fancy takes wings, and he is seen to be 
a pure and simple child of song. He no more packs thoughts 
into epigrams and he does not reason fancy out of existence. 
These are slight things, common things, unimportant and out- 
of-the-way things, but they are all woven into a texture of 
throbbing rhythm and word magic. Triolets is Elizabethan in 
its simplicity and direct force ; Peacocks, The Temple Tank, The 
Sentinels, and The Cow have but tenuous significance in mean- 
ing but much magic of sound. And Nocturne preserves an un- 
ruffled balance of qualities to the end and is one of the best 
pieces in the book. 

Chettur realized that, however poetic one's perceptions, 
expression in an alien language will be possible only after an 
intimate study of its sound values and verse forms. As a 


French critic wittily remarked, poetry is written with words, 
not with ideas ! The more one reads Chettur's sonnets and 
Other pieces, the more one admires his verbal felicity and his 
mastery over English verse forms. As " K.S.", thfe reviewer 
in the Literary Supplement of The Hindy, remarked, " so much 
i of the beauty of Mr. Chettufs verse resides in its mere rhythm, 
in the sinuous and long-drawn graces of its movement." 
Whether his theme is the cow, or Samuel Johnson, or peacocks, 
or the Temple Tank, Chettur's un^^visatigns in verse please 
the ear, even if they do not always improve the mind. In his 
last volume, The Shadow of God, Chettur's muse acquired a 
measure of mellowness and serenity, and seemed to embody 
his deeper thoughts and riper musings. It marked an improve- 
ment on his earlier work and added to the store of his revela- 



(1867-1924), along with his. , brother 
went to England and remained there to tefe* 

an ford^degree.^ E^i^fcgcame 
tongue tojhem both and they both blossomed, into poe.tejey.en 
m their .teens. Along with Arthur Cripps, Laurence Binyon 
ancTStepKeh Phillips, Manmohan Ghose published in 1880 
a volume of poems, Primavera. Manmohan's latter publica- 
tions were Love Songs and Elegies and Songs of Love 
and Death. He worked as a Professor of English 
literature after his return to India. He has been 
called by Mr. George Sampson, in The Concise Cambridge 
History of English Literature, as " the most remark- 
able of Indian poets who wrote in English," According to 
the same authority, a reader of Manmohan's poems " would 
readily take them as the work of an English poet trained in 
the classical tradition." 


It isi true ; in the body of Manmohan's verse there are 
few particles of explosive matter ; his is a fairly tranquillized 
and chastened muse. It is not that Manmohan cannot jeel;, 
but he ever compels excitement to assume repose, and hence 
his stanzas glide softly along and insinuate their melancholy 
into our hearts. 

A true poet, Manmohan has Jieaps of time to stand and. 
to stercTton^^ 
Thuslntimately he addresses the weeping willow/. 

Willow sweet, willow sad, willow by the river, 

Taught by pensive love to droop, where ceaseless waters 

Teach me, steadfast sorrower, your mournful grace of 

Weeping to make beautiful the silent water-places. 

He is alike responsive to poplar, beech, the butterfly, bright 
stars, and the evening sky ; his eyes they cannot choose but 
see, his ears they cannot choose but hear ; above all, an exile 
in England during the impressionable period of his life, his 
heart cannot choose but yearn for his country and it was dur- 
ing such a moment of homesickness that Manmohan wrote 
the beautiful poem Myvanwy* concluding with this memorable 
affirmation of faith: 

Lost is that country, and all but forgotten 
'Mid these chill breezes 1 , yet still, oh, believe me. 
All her meridian suns and ardent ' summers 
Burn in my bosom. 

The latter part of Manmohan's life was dimmed ^nd 
darkened by the lengthening shadow cast by his dear and 
beautiful wife's prolonged illness and premature death. No 
wonder those who saw him during this period of his life found 
him " a broken man who bore the countenance of one tragic- 
ally fated.'* After his wife's death in 1918, Manmohan found 


life more or less without savour, and he was himself 
afflicted with a series of illnesses. He became blind, he retired 
from his professorship in the Calcutta Presidency College, he 
was a solitary soul like another blind poet in his declining 
years, the great Milton himself. His daughter has given us 
this vivid picture of the aged Manmohan : " For hours he 
would sit wrapt in thought. The sunset deepened into darker 
shades, twilight crept on apace, but my father sat in the dark- 
ening room looking straight before him, sometimes repeating a 
few lines aloud, unconscious of all that was going on around him. 
Always there was the same intense look in his eyes, the same 
radiance lit his face. As I looked, it seemed to me that I was 
gazing on the face of some ancient Yogi on the eve of gaining 
the fruits of his Yoga." He died in 1924, after an illness of 
twq months, shortly before the date of his intended departure 
for England, 

As against the portrait of the aged Manmohan given by 
his daughter, we might set here this other portrait of the 
youthful poet, attempted by his friend, Mr. Laurence Binyon. 
" I can still hear ", says Mr. Binyon, " Manmohan Ghose 
standing up to read a poem in the crowded room. His long 
hair fell half over his eyes ; as he read he detached one of 
his dark locks and pulled at it with out-stretched hand : obli- 
vious of his surroundings, lost in the poem, he appeared almost 
convulsed in the emotional effort of his delivery." 

In spite of superficial differences, it i& the same man that 
has 4>een described by friend and daughter ; it is the dreamer 
weaving fancies, it is the poet hidden in the light of thought, 
it is the Yogi trying to achieve a synthesis of inner and outer 
experience. Neither the rigour of lecturing routine nor the 
daily impact of Rlin nor yet the repeated shocks to his sensitive 
universe ever succeeded in hushing up Manmohan's creative 


activity. Perseus fascinated him, as it did his brother Auro- 
bindo, and he attempted a blank verse epic on this legendary 
hero ; the Great War of 1914-18 stung him to attempt another 
epic, something of a Dynasts, detailing the events of a later 
day ; he also wrote innumerable shorter poems, lyrics, dramatic 
fragments, and elegiac pieces. 

It is to be supposed that much of his work yet remains 
unpublished ; but enough has been already published to give 
the discriminating reader an adequate idea of Manmohan's 
poetic achievement. We have referred to his Nature poetry, 
which is ever sensuously beautiful and suggestive ; it is also a 
strangely tantalizing amalgam of England and India. Are there 
many references to the English seasons and to English flowers 
and to English trees ? But the poems are equally broad based 
on India, and breathe her spirit of restrained rapture and tran- 
quillity ; and anyhow the pieces are poetry undeniable, and 
that is all that matters to us. 

When, however, Manmohan seeks to transmute the very 
edge of emotion into poetry, we get the true pathos and sub- 
lime of the best poetry. The pieces included in the two 
sequences entitled Immortal Eve and Orphic Mysteries consti- 
tute, perhaps, Manmohan's highest achievement in sheer lyrical 
poetry. Pain is fresh upon him and he cannot but daily taste 
the everlasting tears in things : but Pain does not embitter 
him, it only makes him gently moan the hurt that he has 
sustained and send forth his soul's prayer for repair and 
recovery : 

Paean of immortality, 

O Godward peal of praise ! 
Ring, ring within my mortal ears, 

My fainting spirit raise ! 

It may be that the lost joys of his life are " far sunk 
beyond rave and fret " ; it may be he is but surrounded by 


" the souls of dreams unflowered and the roses of regret " ; 
it may be that he trembles and falters on the shores of desola- 
tion ; but the " Godward peal of praise " is never quite stilled, 
and he can still catch "the great rhythm that thunders up to 



JVlanmohan Ghose's younger brother, Sri Aurobindo, has 
just completed his seventy-first year and is, and has been for 
the last thirty-five years, living as a recluse at Pondicherry. 
In his purv a asrama, he was a professor at Baroda, and .subse- 
qu^ntly a journalist and politician in Calcutta. Since his 
retirement to Pondicherry, he has in real truth become a Pilgrim 
of Eternity, and the Aurobindo Ashram has become one of the 
hallowed spots in the world. 

Ass one of the editors of Arya, the philosophical review 
that "EadTsiichT a short but glorious existence, Sri Aurobindo 
wfote""serially in its columns various sequences of articles, 
The Life Divine, Essays on the Gita, A Defence of Indian Cul- 
ture, The Spctyt of the V\eda, The Ideal of Human ( Unity. 
The Psychology of Social Development, The Synthesis of Yoga, 
and The Future Poetry. The two former sequences have been 
now issued in book form and constitute a monumental contri- 
bution to modern thought. Other prose publications include 
Vieute and Reviews, Heraditus 1 , Bastes of Yoga, The Mother, 
Kalidasa, The National V>alue of Art, the Renaissance in 
India, Ideal and Progress, A System of National Education 
and The Riddle of this World. Some of these are but reprints 
of old articles, others are collections of letters to various corres- 


\JProfessor or politician, philosopher or mystic or yogi, Sri 
Aurobindo has all along been an English poet of remarkable 
power and range. \ Two jmmgtuous volumes of his Collected 
Poems and Plays have been recently published to commemo- 
rate his seventy-first birthday : but the editor, Mr. Nolini 
Kanta Gupta, says that " the work presented here is only a 
small portion of what he has actually written, the bulk of which 
has not yet seen the light of day. However, even the publi- 
shed seven hundred pages of the Collected Poems and Plays 
embody a reality of poetic in^jJlfation and achievement which 
compels recognition at once. ^Unlike Tagore, who wrote most 
of his works originally in Bengali and only later translated 
them into English, Sri Aurobindo has all along expressed him- 
self in English and English alone. This circumstance gives 
us the right to call him the most outstanding of the Indo- 

/ n 

f As an Indo-Anglian poet, Sri Aurobindo's work has always 
been characterised by a flawless metrical craftsmanship which 
has obviously been facilitated by his profound mastery of 
Greek, Latin and Sanskrit literatures.,/ His scholarly and thought- 
provoking 40-page essay on Quantitative Metre is a valuable 
addition to the comparatively meagre literature on the subject 
in English. In many of his more recent poems, Sri Aurobindo 
has tried, not unsuccessfully, to give some of the classical 
meters, including the fatally alluring hexameter, an English habi- 
tation and name. 

However, Sri Aurobindo, authentic poet and thinker that 

he is, knows that poetry is not metre merely but only uses 

it as its fit vehicle for articulation. As he once wrote to one 

of his correspondents, " Poetry, if it deserves the name at all, 



comes always from some subtle plane through the creative 
vital and uses the outer mind and other external instruments 
for transmission only." If the inspiration is not urgent enough, 
or if the metrical craftsmanship is not consummate enough, 
we have either verse that is pleasing and faultless or poetry 
that just misses its name and vocation. The breeze of inspi- 
ration bloweth where and when it listeth and cannot therefore 
be summoned to order : -tout metrical mastery can be acquired 
and retained. Meanwhile, the poet can but wait for the unpre- 
dictable moment when inspiration will enkindle his verses into 
the unfading incandescence of poetry. 

Sri Aurobindo's verses whether he is but translating 
Kalidasa or Bhartrihari or Plato or Meleager or Chittaranjan 
Das, or whether he is more creatively engaged in recording 
his own unbending quests in different spheres of intellectual and 
spiritual activity are always the products of a careful and 
sensitive art. They are worth reading and pondering over for 
their own sake, and not only as the significant by-products 
of the stupendous endeavours that have given the world 
Olympian treatises like The Life Divine. However it derives 
its inspiration and whoever be its author, a stanza like this 
is a veritable thing of beauty and deserves to be cherished 
in and for itself : 

O love, what more shall I, shall Radha speak, 
.Since mortal words are weak ? 

In life, in death, 
In being an0 in breath 
No other lord but thee can Radha seek. 

That this stanza has been inspired by the original Bengali of 
Chundidas does not make it any the less charming as English 

Sri Aurobindo holds the healthy, but rather unorthodox, 
view that a translation need not be quite literal and dully 


flat. As he wrote to Mr. Dilip Kumar Roy, "a translator 
is not necessarily bound to the original he chooses ; he can 
make his own poem out of it, if he likes, and that is what 
is generally done." Literal translations may have their own 
dubious value as cribs for students over whom hangs the 
spectre of an imminent examination ; but translations like 
Chapman's Homer and J^itzgerald's Omar Khayyam are poems 
Irf their own fight and implicitly honour their great originals. 
Tffis, too, is what Sri Aurobindo has tried to do in his many 
free renderings from the original Greek, Bengali and Sanskrit 
literatures. Indeed, some of these so-called translations are 
so good and so feast the ear and chasten the mind that they are 
more like transfigurations in terms of colour, sound and in- 
wrought imagery. For instance, what can be more richly con- 
ceived or more finely expressed than lines like these, all taken 
from Sri Aurobindo's renderings of the late C. R. Das's Sagar- 
Sangit (Songs oj the Sea) : 

thou unhoped-for elusive wonder of the skies, 

Stand still one moment ! I will lead thee, and bind 
With music to the chambers of my mind . . . 

Behold, the perfect-gloried dawn has come 
Far-floating from eternity her home . . . 

Thy huge rebuke shook all my nature, all 

The narrow coasts of thought sank crumbling in. 

Collapsed that play-room and that lamp was quenched. 

1 stood in Ocean's thunders, washed and drenched .... 

The arts of echo and refrain, of assonance and dissonance, 
of variation in movement through the adroit placing of poly- 
syllables to give added weight and momentum to the verse, 
all these are mobilised, controlled and converted into an abid- 
ing expression of the bottomless depth and mystery of the 


Many of Sri Aurobindo's other translations, including his 
beautiful rendering of Kalidasa's play, Vikramorvasie, do 
also in like manner partake of the character of original com- 
positions, and should so be treasured. 


As regards Sri Aurobindo's professedly original poetry, 
the earlier pieces are more immediately effective and hence 
easier to enjoy than many of the later, and more philosophic- 
ally sustained, poems. The earlier pieces, belonging as they 
do to Sri Aurobindo's period of adolescence, sometimes achieve 
a Keatsian sensuousness and sweetness in their imagery and 
music : 

Love, a moment drop thy hands ; 

Night within my soul expands. 

Veil thy beauties milk-rose-fair 

In that dark and showering hair. 

JCoral kisses ravish not 

When the soul is tinged with thought ; 

Burning looks are then forbid . 

Presently, there is a deeper note and a more characteristic 
fusion of English idiom with Hindu processes of thought ; 
mere wonder gives place to daring speculation, speculation 
to a dialectic of doubt, and doubt to an incipient faith ; the 
doubts are stilled now, the crust of European culture lies 
about in fragments, and Sri Aurobindo has safely come through. 
Poems like Who, A Vision of Science, The Vedantin's Prayer, 
Parablahman and God, all clinchingly affirm the Everlasting 
Yea. Who contains the first and (last) question of all, and 
its answer as well : 

In the blue of the sky in the green of the forest, 
Whose is the hand that has painted the glow ? 
When the winds were asleep in the womb of the ether, 


Who was 1 it roused them and bade them to blow 

In the sweep of the worlds, in the surge of the ages, 

Ineffable, mighty, majestic and pure, 
Beyond the last pinnacle seized by the thinker 

He is throned in His seats that for ever endure. 

The anapaestic measure gives this poem of eleven stanzas an 
almost Swinburnian rapidity of movement. On the other hand, 
the architectonics of the following small verse paragraph trans- 
mute into beautiful poetry even the tremendous energy that 
informs it: 

Then from our hills 1 the ancient answer pealed, 

" For Thou. O Splendour, art myself concealed, 

And the grey cell contains me not, the star 

I outmeasure and am older than the elements are. 

Whether on earth or far beyond the sun, 

I, stumbling, clouded, am the Eternal One." 

The Everlasting Yea is thus affirmed in divers tunes by 
the adept singer ; it is the finale to the Arctic Seer's revela- 
tion : 

For thou art He, O King. Only the night 

Is on the soul 
By thy own will. Remove it and recover 

The serene whole 
Thou art indeed, then raise up man the lover 

To God the goal ; 

and it is also the purposeful core of A Child's Imagination : 
Strange, remote and splendid 

Childhood'vS fancy pure 
Thrills to thoughts we cannot fathom 

Quick felicities obscure . . 

These are coming on thee 

In thy secret thought. 
God remembers in thy bosom 

All the wonders that He wrought. 



To the pre-Pondicherry period also belong the longer 
narrative poems, Urvasie, Love and Death, and Baji Prabhou, 
not to mention Vidula, a free poetic paraphrase of four 
chapters from the Udyog-parva of the Mcthabhamta. Baji 
Prabhou is a tale of Maratha chivalry, and is told with becom- 
ing vigour and dignity. Urvasie is a metrical romance in four 
cantos ; in it the story of Pururavas and Urvasie familiar to 
all those who have read Kalidasa's play is narrated, in flexible 
blank verse, with a strange new beauty and charm. This long 
poem of about 1500 lines is interspersed with many admir- 
able passages that evoke colour and sound with a sure artistry ; 
and not seldom the words acquire a nervous potency of sug- 
gestion romantic to the marrow: 

She, o'erborne, 

Panting, with inarticulate murmers lay, 
Like a slim tree half-seen through driving hail, 
Her naked arms clasping his neck, her cheek 
And golden throat averted, and wide trouble 
In her large eyes bewildered with their bliss. 
Amid her wind-blown hair their faces met. 

Love and Death, somewhat shorter than Urvasie, sweeps 
on its course with the same intensity of emotion and similar 
richness of music. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is almost 
transformed into a magic tale of love and death and immortal- 
ity, typically Hindu in its setting, sentiments and language. 
Blank verse all but assumes wings in a tumultuous passage 

towards him 

/Innumerable waters loomed, and heaven 
Threatened. Horizon on horizon moved 
Dreadfully swift ; then with a prone wide sound 
All Ocean hollowing drew him swiftly in, 
Curving with monstrous menace over him. 


He down the gulf where the loud waves collapsed 

Descending, saw with floating hair arise 

The daughters of the sea in pale green light, 

A million mystic breasts suddenly bare, 

And came beneath the flood and stunned beheld 

A mute stupendous march of waters race 

To reach some viewless pit beneath the world. 

The same mastery over blank verse, the most elusively 
tantalizing of verse forms, is also exhibited in Sri Aurobindo's 
poetic play, Perseus the Deliverer. This heroic hero of ancient 
myth is portrayed by Sri Aurobindo as a veritable hero indeed, 
but a hero that signifies " the first promptings of the deeper 
and higher psychic and spiritual being which it is his ultimate 
destiny to become," The conflict in the play is in the nature 
of a Hegelian dialectic ; man shall progress indeed, but only 
by bravely riding on the crests and cusps of the checks and 
counter-checks that punctuate his life : 

For through the shocks of difficulty and death 
Man shall attain his godhead. 

The Heraclitan maxim is underlined and expanded in the last 

lines of the play : 

CASSIOPEA : How can the immortal gods and Nature change ? 

PERSEUS : All alters 1 in a world that is the same. 

Man most must change who is a soul of Time ; 
His gods too change and live in larger light. 

CEPHESUS : Then man too may arise to greater heights, 
His being draw nearer to the gods. 

PERSEUS : Perhapis. 

But the blind nether forces still have power 
And the ascent is slow and long is Time. 
Yet shall Truth grow and harmony increase : 
The day shall come when men feel close and one. 
Meanwlile one forward step is something gained, 
Since little by little earth must open to heaven 
Till her dim soul awakes into Light. 


We can discover in the above passage the germs of the 
thought that was later to grow in volume and substance and 
fill the ample halls and corridors of The Life Divine ; and 
yet, for all its message, Perseus the Deliverer is essentially 
a play of action, full of the rush and tumult of a cosmic 
conflict and is therefore breathlessly interesting as sheer drama. 
Besides, the play is full of overtones and undertones to which 
it is not at all possible to do justice here. However, one can- 
not help drawing the reader's attention to the following lines, 
spoken by Perseus, with reference to the priest Polydaon, which 
rather seem to describe with a peculiar force, some of the 
seeming superman-dictators of the day : 

This man for a few hours became the vessel 
Of an occult and formidable Force 
And through his form it did fierce terrible things 
Unhuman : but his small and gloomy mind 
And impure dark heart could not contain the Force. 
It turned in him to madness and demoniac 
Huge longings. Then the Power withdrew from him 
Leaving the broken incapable instrument 
And all its might was spilt from the body. Better 
To be a common man mid common men 
And live an unaspiring mortal life 
Than call into oneself a Titan strength 
Too dire and mighty for its human frame, 
That only afflicts the oppressed astonished world, 
Then breaks its user. 

That surely is one of the peaks of divination in the body of 
Sri Aurobindd's poetry. 

In one of his illuminating series of articles on The Future 
Poetry, Sri Aurobindo declared : " To embellish life with beauty 
is' only the most outward function of art and poetry ; to 
make life more intimately beautiful and aoble and great and 
full of meaning is its higher office ; but its highest comes when 
the poet becomes the seer and reveals to man his eternal self 


and the godheads of its manifestation/' He also pointed out 
that the poets of the future would probably try to make poetic 
utterance approximate to the seemingly beginningless >mantra. 
This too is what M. Abbe Bremond meant when, he saidjhat 
poetry is a mystic incantation allied to prayer. 

In his latest poems, Ahana, Shiva, The Bird of Fire, 
Jivanmukta, Trance of Waiting and the rest, Sri Aurobindo, 
having safely come to port after going through the singular 
perturbations of life, has tried in the full plenitude of his vision 
to reveal to man " his eternal self and the godheads of its 
manifestation." The ecstasy that he would now translate into 
words is truly ineffable and unwordable and could only be 
suggested through symbolism and the downright triumph of 
style of an apparently effortless fusion of the dynamics of 
movement and the magic of sound that gives one the sense 
(to quote his own words) "of a rhythm which does not begin 
or end with the line, but has for ever been sounding in the 
eternal planes and began even in Time ages ago and which 
returns into the infinite to go sounding on for ages after." 
Neither the unexpected turns in the rhythm, nor the furious 
drive of verbal wizardry in a 'poem like The Rose of God or 
Thought the Paraclete, nor yet the immense load of spiritual 
connotation certain words are made to carry, are quite a bar 
to our reading and appreciating these pieces as poetry first 
and poetry last, poetry true to its quintessential vocation. 
Coleridge rightly remarked that poetry should but be partially 
understood. And yet, however partial our intellectual compre- 
hension may be, our very soul can at auspicious moments 
respond and seize by direct apprehension the tremendous import 
of even a stanza like this : 

Only the illimitable Permanent 

Is here. A Peace stupendous, featureless, still 
Replaces all, What once was 1 I, in It 


A silent unnamed emptiness content 
Either to fade in the Unknowable 

Or thrill with the luminous seas of the Infinite. 


[ While the two volumes of his Collected Poems and Plays 
embody a reality of poetic achievement that immediately places 
Sri Aurobindo in the very front of twentieth-century English 
poets, his prose writings so many of them, so varied in 
subject-matter and so colossal in bulk give us the right to call 
him one of the supreme masters of modern English prose. 
The Life Divine, a great work of over sixteen hundred pages, 
is when superficially considered an abstruse treatise, bristl- 
ing with technical terms and recondite differentiations. 
The discussions give abundant proof of a virile mental 
forge at work ; no mere logician developed a thesis or elaborated 
an argument better than Sri Aurobindo does in The Life 
Divine. JFor the student of English literature, however, The 
Life Divine is not a metaphysical treatise but a work of lite- 
rature ; for truly is this vast Himalayan treatise a prose 
symphony, whose strains are as rich and individual as those 
-of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 
v/, ^Similarly, Sri Aurobindo's Essays on the Gita, two volumes 
of about one thousand pages in all, is both a philosophical 
commentary and a beautiful work of prose. } In intention the 
book is exegetical ; Sri Aurobindo paraphrases the Gita verse 
by verse ; he sifts, arranges, illustrates and expands Lord 
Krishna's uttered and unuttered thoughts. Seemingly repeti- 
tive, the B$say$ are seen in the end to be somehow endowed 
with a marvellous compactness and unity of its own. What 
has happened is this : while doubtless deriving his primary 
inspiration from the Song Celestial, Sri Aurobindo has created 
out of it his own individual music that enchants and exhila- 


rates the reader and gradually effects in him a heightened aware- 
ness and a keener sensibility. 

Sri Aurobindo's other major prose works The Future 
Poetry, The Psychology of Social Development, The Ideal of 
Human Unity, The Synthesis of Yoga, A Defence of Indian 
Culture, and The Secret of the Veda are unfortunately not 
easily accessible ; since their publication in the Arya between 
1914 and 1921, they have not been republished in book form. 
But they too display the same powers of closeness of reason- 
ing, spiritual illumination and imaginative richness and lumi- 
nosity of style, that we have come to associate with Sri Auro- 
bindo's most characteristic prose writings, 

The minor prose works the thousands of letters that he 
has written to his disciples, the epigrams and the aphorisms, 
the reprints of contributions to the Karmayogin and the Arya r 
reveal aiso the same perspicacity in thought and mastery, 
of phrase ; but The Mother, the great little book, reveals Sri 
Aurobindo"s verbal suppleness at its best. In particular, the 
sixth section that evokes with intuitive certainty and imagin- 
ative precision the manifold "powers" and "personalities" 
of the Mother is surely among the very finest of his achieve- 
ments as a literary artist. As one reads his description of 
Maheshwari or Mahakali, Mahalakshmi or Mahasaraswati, one 
wonders whether it is all a recordation of demonstrable fact 
or only the subtle elaboration of a poet's fancy ; in any case, 
one knows that these are passages that a Sir Thomas Browne 
or a Landor or a Walter Pater might have felt proud to have 
written ; and The Mother is full of such beautiful and memo- 
rable things. 





It is natural that Sarojini Devi and Harindranath Chatto- 
padhyaya should be taken together ; Jthey_are_sisteL and*. 
jDoets both, and botlichildrenjof Dr. Agorenath Chattopadhya- 
ya of Hyderabad, whose spirit the daughter was later to salute 

O mystic jester, golden-hearted Child ! 
Selfless, serene, untroubled, unbeguiled 
By trivial snares of grief and greed or rage ! 

_The children were tiught English at an early age and 
learned when quite young to speak and write it with astonish- 
ing* ease. Sarojini meantime passed the Matriculation Exa- 
mination of the Madras University at the incredible age of 
twelve and, a few years later, proceeded to England with a 
special state scholarship. She had thus reason to feel grateful 
To the Nizam of Hyderabad to whom, several years later, she 
presented a few felicitous verses beginning with : 

Deign, Prince, my tribute to receive, 
This lyric offering to your name, 
Who round your jewelled sceptre bind * 
The lilies of a poet's fame. 

In England she went through a course .of jeducation at 
London and at Cambridge and, what was more valuable still, 
"made important contacts with some of the leading literary men 
of the time, including Arthur Symons and Edmund Gosse. She 
had taken to England a packet of English verses and she had 
since added to their store with assiduity ; but not merely 
their expression, but their very inspiration^ was so painstakingly 
English and hence foreign to her genius that Gosse wisely 


advised her "to write no more about robins and skylarks 

but to describe the flowers, the fruits, the trees, to 

'set her poems firmly among the mountains, the gardens, the 
temples, to introduce to us the vivid populations of her 
own jvoluptuous and unfamiliar province ; in other words, to 
be a genuine Indian poet of the Deccan, not a clever machine- 
made imitator of the English classics." The young poetess 
quickly consigned to the fire her immature imitative verses and 
started once again ; she turned inwards, she turned homeward, 
and soon eligible themes crowded round her thick like the pro 
verbial autumnal leaves in Vallambrosa ; and she gave them 
full-throated 1 utterance in the many songs and lyrics she com- 

Returning to India, Sarojini Chattopadhyaya, in spite of 
caste prejudices, became the^wife of Dr. Naidu.; she now sur- 
rendered herself, not only to the fervour of lyric expression, but 
also to the profounder adventures of love and motherhood. She 
was in course of time the mother of two boys and two girls, 
"to whom she addressed a few delightful and tender verses. 

Her career as a poet began with the publication in 1905, 
at her twenty-sixth year^ of The Golden Threshold.; it was 
followed by two more volumes, The Bird of Time (1912) and 
The Brokm Wing (1917). In the meantime, Sarojini Devi 
had drifted, almost imperceptibly, from the flowery fields of 
poesy to the roll and thunder of politics ; the poetess would 
now lay down her lyre, and be alive (to quote from her Fore- 
word to her last volume) " to her splendid destiny as the 
guardian and interpreter of the Triune Vision of_ .national, 
life the Vision oTLoye, the Vision of Faith, and the Vision. 
orPatriotism.^She had, as early as 1906, found her voice 
as a public speaker ; and she had on that occasion received 
from Gopal Krishna Gokhale a pencilled note saying : " Your 
speech was more than an intellectual treat of the highest order. 


It was a perfect piece of art. We all felt for the moment to be 
lifted to a higher plane." 

_Nor inappropriately did Mahatma Gandhi once call Sanv 
jini Devi the Mira Bai of our times. Like Mira, Sarojini Devi 
too broke through the hardened walls of meaningless conven- 
tion and bravely stoo4 her ground, while around her raged 
the storms of misrepresentation and caste prejudice ; like Mira 
again, ,who dedicated her life to the service of the Lord of 
Brindavan, Sarojini Devi also has consecrated her life, with 
a stern singleness of purpose, to the service of her Motherland. 

The child hardly more than a child ! of whom Mr. 
Arthur Symons wrote that she "had already lived through 
all a womari's life" was now a young woman indeed, but 
a woman who (to quote Madame Sophia Wadia) " incarnated 
the national pain within herself " and screamed out the agonies 
of the Mother in the throes of her rebirth. Not of birds or 
dells or dingles, not of homely joys and fertile tears, but of 
the Nation and its " radiant promise of renascent morn " 
would she now hymn her anthems of love. Thus daily would 
she affirm her adorations, her hopes, her vows : 

Are we not thine, O Belov'd, to inherit 
The manifold pride and power of thy spirit ? 
Ne'er shall we fail thee, forsake thee or falter, 
Whose hearts are thy home and thy shield and thine altar. 
Lo ! we would thrill the high stars with thy story, 
And set thee again in the forefront of glory. 

If poetry alone could achieve the freedom of a country, 
India should long ago have been borne to the haven of redemp- 
tion on the galloping anapaests of these stout-hearted lines. 
Sarojini Devi has since had her own share of double, double, 
toil and trouble, but still would she challenge Fate with 

O Fate, in vain you hanker to control 
My frail, serene, indomitable soul., 



When Sarojini DevTs first book, The Golden Threshold, 
was pjiblished in England, the critics received it. enthusiastic- 
ally. (The book x seemed to prove many things ; that women 
could write poetry ; that the soul of the East could be made 
to inhabit forms familiar to the West ; that new poetry, for 
all its traditional expression, could nevertheless radiate a 
freshness and an individuality of its own ; that one could drink 
deep in the wells of an alien culture and yet remain " to the 
fullest extent autochthonous/') ^.w/ 

There is no doubt about it ; the stuff of Sarojini Devi's 
poems is of the soil of India.. When she sings of the Cora- 
mandel Fishers gathering their nets from the shore and setting 
their catamarans free ; when she sings a Harvest Hymn in 
praise of Surya, Varuna, Prithvii and Brahma ; when she sings 
of Indian Weavers and Bangle-sellers and Palanquin-bearers ; 
when she sings of " rush-fringed rivers and river-fed streams ", 
and of: 

Fireflies weaving aerial dances 

In fragile rhythms of flickering gold ; 

when she artfully reproduces the lilt and the rhythm and the 
complicated movements of the Indian Dancers ; when she 
immortalizes in song the "daughter of a wandering race", 
the Indian Gipsy ; when she renders in moving verse the very 
heart-aches of the Hindu widow on Vasant Panchami day ; or 
when she evokes typical Indian scenes like an ox-cart stumbling 
upon the rocks or a shepherd collecting his flock under the 
Pipal-trees or a young Banjira lifting up her voice. 

In an ancient ballad of love and battle 
Set to the beat of a mystic tune, 
And the faint stars gleam in the eastern sky 
To herald a rising moon 


why, we are certain that Sarojini Devi is autochthonous, that 
she does spring from " the soil of India." 

But, after all, it is needless so late in the day to labour 
the point : Sarojini Devi is a superlatively gifted Indian 
poetess who has chosen, as the Pole Conrad'chose, English as 
her medium of expression ; that really is all that need be said. 
As an English 'poetess, her easy mastery over English verse forms 
is obvious ; but this fatal ease has once or twice betrayed he r 
into a rhetorical sing-song unladen with thought. 

And yet without her metrical mastery she could hardly 
have achieved the finished perfection of either To a Buddha 
seated on a Lotus or The Flute-Player of Brindaban. In a 
stanza like the following the mechanics of verse but offer scope 
for true poetic revelation : 

To Indra's golden-flowering groves 

Where streams immortal flow, 
Or to sad Yama's silent Courts 

Engulfed in lamplessi woe, 
Where'er thy subtle flute I hear 

Beloved I must go ! 

Even more gem-like in its effulgent beauty of expression is 
To a Buddha seated on a Lotus in which poetry transcends mere 
philosophical speculation and sweeps on to the triumphant asse- 
veration : 

And all our mortal moments are 
A session of the Infinite. 

Sarojini Devi, like her own Bird of Time, covered a wide 
range in the pieces she composed during a period of about 
twenty years of creative activity ; hers were: 

Songs of the glory and gladness of life, 
Of poignant sorrow and passionate strife, 
And the lilting joy of the spring ; 
Of hope that sows for the years unborn, 


And faith that dreams of a tarrying morn, 
The fragrant peace of the twilight's breath, 
And the mystic silence that men call death. 
She particularly excelled in describing familiar things ; a June 
sunset, the full moon, nightfall in the city, temple bells, Saro- 
jini Devi threw on them all the colouring of her imagination, 
at once so sensitive and so femiriine ; and exquisite poems 
or rich, jewelled phrases resulted. She also excelled in con- 
tacting the sheer immensities and imponderables of the universe 
and reducing them to significant and all-subduing phrases 
like : 

Life is a lovely stalactite of dreams 

For life is like a burning veil 
That keeps our yearning souls apart 

Thine ageless beauty born of Brahma's breath 

A caste-mark on the azure brows of heaven, 
The golden moon burns, sacred, solemn, bright. 

Sarojini Devi's failures in song are the result of her occa- 
sionally coercing her muse to play hand-maiden to a topical or 
popular theme. When, however, her inspiration is authentic, 
as it is in most of her poems, be the theme * common ' or 
unusual, her poetry has invariably a translucent bird-like 
quality, and is simple, sensuous and impassioned. It may be 
that to speculate on what Sarojini Devi might have achieved 
"as a poet if she riadi not turned a politician is merely an idle 
~pastirrie : but the human mind is rebellious and would toy 
"with regrets, though they are altogether futile. But what- 
ever may bq her unfulfilled possibilities as! a poet, her actual 
achievement is formidable enough, and we can address this 
inspired singer of ,songs, this National! President of the All- 
India Centre of the P. E. N., in her own so apposite words : 

Your name within a nation's prayer, 
Your music on a nation's tongue. 




Iferindranath ChattopadhyaYa is Sarojin| Devi's younger 
brother : and like hers, his own verse is distinguished by a 
never-failing fluency in expression and an almost equal metri- 
cal proficiency. It is nearly twenty-five years since Harindra- 
nath dazzled the Indian literary world with his first book 
of poems, The Feast of Youth, the book that elicited from, the 
Sage of Pondicherry the generous encomium : " A rich and 
finely lavish command of language, a firm possession of his 
metrical instrument, an almost blinding gleam and glitter of 
the wealth of imagination and fancy, a stream of unfailingly 
poetic thought and image and a high though as yet uncertain 
pitch of expression, are the powers with which the young 
poet starts Here perhaps are the beginnings of a sup- 
reme utterance of the Indian soul in the rhythms of the 
English tongue. " 

True to its title, the book offers indeed a veritable "feast 
of youth" youth's fervour and excitement, youth's self-lacera- 
tion and self-confidence, youth's thrilling assertions and idea- 
lisms. There are poems compact of beauty and thought and 
one lights upon! stray lines that linger for ever in one's memory. 
Message elaborates an image into the fullness of a revelation: 

In my slumber and my waking 

I can hear his sobbing flute 

Through the springtime and the autumn 

Shaping every flower and fruit ; 

And his gleaming laughter colours 

Orange hills and purple streams. 

He is throbbing in the crystal, 

Magic centre of my dreams 

He is moving every moment 
To the world He loves so much. 

In stray lines like " like changing fires on sunset seas " or " a 


glimmering peacock in my flowering flesh " or "' every note is 
crushed to silent sorrow in the song-bird's throat" or "the 
Spring hath come and gone with all her coloured hours" 
in these lines one can surely watch the eager and enraptured 
poet, his eyes in a fine frenzy rolling, his hands turning out 
of the poetic forge phrases of a delicate and haunting beauty. 

Since then several more volumes have appeared ; but the 
huge promissory note that his first volume was is yet to be 
redeemed. Five Plays, Coloured Garden, The Magic Tree, 
Strange Journey, Fifteen Dry points (with Mukul Dey) and The 
Dark Well, The Perfume of Earth, Grey Clouds and White 
Showers, Ancient Wings, all have left his admirers progressive- 
ly more and more disappointed. It is not that these do not 
exhibit an original and vivacious poetic talent ; that is admit- 
ted at once ; but why has Harindranath cruelly belied the 
hopes of his admirers, why has he failed to outgrow mere 
talent and refused to light on the summit of positive achieve- 

In the considerable, and still growing, body of his verse 
we come across ever so many poetical lines, but few good poesms; 
promising opening stanzas lose themselves in the shallows of 
inanity and bathos ; lines of a metallic and magical suggestive- 
ness jostle wiith mere bad prose. One has the feeling* that 
somehow the siweet bells are jangled out of tune and cannot 
now give out long, wholesome peals. And yet which Indo- 
Anglian poet, even at his best, has given us things better than 
the opening stanza of Sleeping Beauty : 

Do not defy the hidden power, 

Nor trifle with the voiceless deep ; 

Within the cloud and stone and flower 
The Ancient Beauty 19 asleep; 

or a more finely inspired or more carefully executed poem than 
this : 


O pain, I love the lonely wine-red gleams 

Within your deep and ever-wakeful eyes : 

Old Arab in the dark tent of my dream 

Under the burning skies. 

Excess of ecstasy, immortal pain, 

Comrade of love, companion of desire, 

Lone Bedouin riding through life's desert plain 

A camel of red fire. 

Most splendid traveller of eternity 

In whose first footfall the wide world began, 

A holy Mecca in the heart of me 

Awaits your caravan. 

In such poems Harindranath would seem to think, like 
Dostoevsky, that pain is an indispensable probation which 
facilitates man's passage across the river of Ignorance to the 
distant shores of the Bliss of God. Man has gathered about 
bjmself such a vast heap of impurity that only the sacrificial 
bonfire of it all will annihilate it and help the human soul to 
reach the Godhead. 


Even in some of his best poems, Harindranath often 
betrays his excessive fondness for mere decorative vocabulary, 
and resorts to padding instead of conveying passion ; the effect 
of this prolixity is not seldom reinforced by the use of hack- 
neyed rhymes like "fire, desire" or "god, clod" and also, 
to a certain extent, by the note of exotic meretriciousness that 
one hears off and on in the body of Harindranath's poetry. 
But when he achieves restraint and true sraddha, he is un- 
doubtedly a fine poet, one who can give us stanzas like the 
following : 

What do I seek beyond the golden edges of the earth? 
Here is the Image clothed in light and mystery and fire. 


In conscious hours our restless human hands can bring 

to birth 

All that the Spirit may desire. 
The glories of beyond are here, the destiny of skies 
Is being fulfilled on earth ; the fate of every silver star 
Is hidden in a seed. A sudden vision in my eyes 
Plucks all the radiance from afar. 

Even in such otherwise excellent stanzas the "fire, desire", 
"skies, eytes" rhymes (which figure also in the poem quoted 
above) occur and make the reader take up (perhaps un- 
reasonably) a wholly defensive attitude towards Harindranath's 

And yet Harindranath is a fascinating poetic personality, 
though not a supreme poet ; casually and carelessly, as it were, 
he turns out poem after poem and some of them do turn out 
to be exceedingly good ones ; they seem to acquire, as if by 
miracle, clarity and force and ripeness and richness, and one 
loves to dwell on such a description of Spring as : 
The Spring-hues deepen into human bliss, 
The heart of God and man in scent are blended. 
The sky meets earth and heaven in one transparent 
kiss ; 

or the poem entitled Strange, as modern in its rhythmic move- 
ment as to-day and as profound in its implicit wisdom as 
Eternity : 

It is the strangest thing to be 
And gaze 

On small unnumbered days 
Go by 

To be the silence at the end, 
And then descend 

Into a world of moan, 
And cry. 


It is the strangest thing to live 

A fugitive 

On this 

Wild earth, and love and kiss 

And plan 

I, the immortal voiceless one, 

To have begun 

These coloured blossoms on the grave 

Called man. 

Why should an authentic poet who can utter strains like 
these yet fail to rise to his full stature? Harindranath, al- 
most drunk with the power of the instrument that so early 
he had mastered, seems to have been content during the past 
twenty-five years merely to wield the rhythmic instrument 
anyhow, constantly, tirelessly, almost indiscriminately and care- 
lessly. In his Foreword to Fifteen Drypoints he casually re- 
marks : " J worked at the verses for a few hours spread over 
two days, and the result is what our readers now see/' If the 
writing of poetry were a matter of mere speed and facility, 
such a species of complacency might be permissible. But such 
considerations do not weigh in the criticism of poetry. Has 
the poet something to say ? Is it worth while rendering it in 
terms of poetry ? Does the poet succeed in rendering his thou- 
ghts, his intuitions, his unique experiences in words that are 
coloured by the imagination, in rhythms that are appropriate 
and satisfying? These criteria alone are valid. 

Harindranath Chattopadhyaya has sounded truly much 
of the gamut of human experience ; moments of vision come 
to himTand ding to him ; oh yes, he has something to say, 
it is worth saying, and he has said it now and again in the 
purest accents and richest music ; but these auspicious, creative 
moments play truant now, and he is obliged to eke out hie 
hours with inferior verses rarely, but rardy, illumined by. fla- 
shes from the hidden glory within. 


In his recent volume, The Dark Well, as also in the verses 
contained in Fifteen Drypotnts, the reader comes across) stray 
lines fully worthy of the true Harindranath : 

All heaven is cloud-cancelled, rain-withdrawn, 
Cruel Rain-Giver ! 

But there, alone, unnoticed and apart, 
A beggar woman with her begging bowl ! 

Bend, O sky-drunk spirit, bend 
At the! shrine of light and shade. . 

Wrapped in vaporous moods of sleep 
Lies the silence, brooding low 

Millions of singers have come and gone 
And yet I dare to sing ; 
It is not the singer that matters at all, 
The song is the thing. 

Why not ? -- Harindranath may yet confound his critics and 
grow into " a supreme singer of the vision of God in Nature 
and Life." 



Goa is an enchanting nook in the sub-continent that is 
India -or so it seems to the casual visitor ; poetry seems to 
lurk in the air, the very waves seem to keep to the rhythms 
of poetic strains. And yet the Goan poet is an unhappy crea- 
ture, caught in the coils of his own unique destiny. Jle talks^ 
Konkani at home, Marathi abroad ; he talks Portuguese, he 
Talks English. Me learns Latin at school and perhaps French^ 
'as "well. In result he is milti-linguaL He has a poet's percep- 
Tfofe~and cravings and self-lacerations ; but destiny has placed 
him (as it has placed, generally speaking, the modern Indian 


between a ,world that is dead and a world 
that is as yjet powerless to be bom ; and he is 
further handicapped by the very versatility of his tongue. 

It is all the tnore astonishing, therefore, that Goa in re- 
cent times should have produced! so many distinguished poets 
who have made distinctive contributions to Portuguese and 
English literatures. Goa is, after all, a diminutive area, 
scarcely bigger than a Taluka in British India ; but the achieve- 
ments of Goan poets like Paulino Dias,^Floriano B&rreto and 
Nascimento Mendonca (who all wrote in Portuguese) and of 
Joseph Furtado, Armando Menezes and Manuel C. Rodrigues 
Tiwho ail write in, English) deserve mention TnT detailed history 
of contemporary Indian literature. 

We dare not prophesy whether Indo-Anglian or Indo- 
Portuguese poetry has any real future : much will depend upon 
the * political future of the country. For odr purpose it is 
enough to note that, notwithstanding the many 1 difficulties in- 
cident to the profession of poetry in India, several lodo- 
Anglians have nobly managed to articulate their fugitive fancies 
and intuitions and to turn them into memorable song. In the 
scroll of authentic Indo-Anglian poets many names will occur, 
but the two most certain names are Joseph Furtado and Arman- 
do Menezes. Furtado's publications include A Goan Fiddler, 
Destenado and Songs in Exile and Professor Menezes's im- 
portant publications up-to-date are The Emigrant, The Fund : 
A Mock-Epic, Chords and Dischords and Chaos and Dancing 


Many Goans are obliged, by pressure of circumstances, 
to leave their secluded; nook behind them and seek a living 
elsewhere : t as one of them, Mr. Luoio Rodrigues, recently 


remarked, "the greater and more important part of the his- 
tory of Goons during the past century has been a history of 

It is therefore natural for the cultured and sensitive Goon 
to lisp, consciously or unawares, the still sad music of home- 
sicknessi, to invest his native village wjith the aura of an In- 
nisfree. These poems of exile, whether written by Furtado or 
by Menezes or by Manuel C. Rodrigues, ring utterly sincere 
and must find an echo in our hearts, who are all exiles in 
greater or lesser measure. There is none with soul so dead 
but is profoundly stirred by memories of his home. Jit Js^a_ 
character of Dostoevsky's who remarks that a man who leaves 
tils village leaves also his soul behind him. No wonder the 
exile pathetically seeks his lost soul, screaming out songs the 
while. Thus Furtado : 

A fiddler am I of seventy-three, 
I go fiddling up and down 
Both countryside and town 

No children nor kith nor kin have! I, 
Not even a home of my own- 
I roam in the world alone. 

Like a Herrick or a Davies, Furtado would pipe the 
same song over and^over again, the same and yet so different : 

And I cannot rise, I cannot pray, 

For the feast of flowers is drawing near 

And my heart is far away. 

Furtado, now lovingly, now ragingly, remembers every detail 
of his hcrtne, of the hills and valleys, of the crosses and the 
shrines, of the cashew trees and bulbuls grey, of the mango trees 
and the Brahmin girls ; no, no, he should never have left his 
home : 

Like a thief I slunk away. 
" Are you leaving us ? " 


Asked the palm-trees, bending low. 

" He's deceiving us ! " 
Cried the birds, " We too will go,"- 

And they followed me. 
I heeded not but hung my head : 
My heart was dead in me ; 
The world I loved was dead, 
The rest was naught to me 

And like a thief I fled 

Of such poetry one may reasonably think that it comes 
(in the Keatsian phrase) as naturally as leaves to a tree ; and 
Furtado's almost always produces this impression of effort- 
leas art. The Maiden's Prayer is typical of Furtado's seem- 
ing artlessness that but carefully screens hisi peculiar art : 

Now o'er one year hath past, O Love, 

Since thou didst pledge to be my spouse, 

And kiss and swear by saints above - 
We kissed and swore to keep the vows. 

Now night and day to saints I pray 

To bless our vows for e'er and aye. 

Each nigjit in dreams I see thy face, 

If deep in slumber I be laid ; 
I run,, all eager to embrace, 

But wake, to find myself betrayed. 
Ah, tenfold then augments my pain- / 
Oh let me see thee once again ! 

Furtado's range may be limited, but within his chosen 
limits his plainsong simplicities are clearly and purely arti- 
culated ; he sings because he cannot help singing ; and we read 
hi songs because we cannot help reading them either. 


Armando Menezes is a more sophisticated poet than Fur- 
tadoTbut he too is a poet of exile and his Commendia Goana 
Is among the best things he has so far done. The first of the 


sonnets describes the scene of departure ; the second wistfully 
recapitulates lost pleasures, weaves fancies about them, yearns 
for them : 

How often, wearied with ungotten gold, 

Have I, O Mother, dreamed, and dreaming, sighed 
For the pure gold of thy sunsets and the tide 

Of golden ricefields when the wind is bold ! 

Is it an exiled Goan dreaming of his native strand ? It is; but 
it is something more as well : it is the quintessence of the 
poetry of exile, and (to quote Furtado once more) it impli- 

The pang of all the partings gone, 

And partings yet to be. 

In the third sonnet, the " emigrant " is back again ; he is a 
sadder, wiser man ; he is " ambition's fool, toil-tossed, life- 
beaten wreck." The ecstasy of the re-union galvanizes him 
for a minute and he is transfigured as he 

Sees, as if waking from an anguished dream, 
The thin, white ribbon of the palm-girt shore ; 

Gray fortresses, white churches, hills of jade ; 
Mandovy rushing with his yellow stream ; 
And then, like Venus from the billows hoar, 

Lo ! Pangim rises queen of masquerade ! 

Pangim is Goafs capital, with a due harmony of parts, pretty 
gay and human. Old Goa, a little away from Pangim, is 
majestic in its very ruins and the poet is unescapably drawn 
towards it. Old Gaa is his song-offering to "those ruins 
gray." The poet's fancy takes wings, Time revolves backwards, 
and Old Goa re-lives for a glorious instant ; soon the enchant- 
ment fades away, and the poet wakes to realize that he had 
but " walked among the dead." 

Prof. Menezes's two earlier pamphlets of verse, The Fund 
and The Emigrant, were primarily the products of a severe 


intellectualism that felt out of tune with the outside world. 
Young and impatient, the poet cannot suffer fools gladly. Com- 
placency and cupidity, vulgarity and sloth sting him to the quick 
and he spouts a stream of satire that sparkles and wounds at 
once. The Emgtmt is charged with Prufrock-like poses of 
spiritual negation : in it the poet sees the world through a 
convex mirror. Perhaps Prof. Menezes wrote it while teaching 
Browning's Men and Women ; its style is anyhow reminiscent 
of Browning : 

-Now you agree? Ay, think it is a pity 
There is no honesty in all this city ? 
But how to shun the lawyer, doctor, bori, 
Or beggar with his tragi-comic story? 
Rank liars all ! More impudent impostors 
Than fortune-tellers or the evening posters ! 
Talk of newspaper?: -cramming you with news 
Which are sometimes more rotten than their views ; 
And you who write, you waste your time and pads 
While Mister Editor collects his " ads " .... 
It is all excellent fun and it is pointed satire ; it is the exercise 
of youth's prerogative when it feels it can annihilate worlds 
with an epigram. It is brilliant and enjoyable but it is also 
spiritually unsatisfying. 

The Fund, a delicious mock-epic in twelve cantos, though 
written with a laudable motive, seems to have wounded rather 
than pacified. As Mr. Pewter remarks in A. P. Herbert's 
book, the world cannot stand cleverness, especially cleverness 
that scintillates. There are passages in The Fund that are 
fascinatingly clever and presumably they went home. The 
controversy that inspired its composition is now happily for- 
gotten but we can still read the poem and just enjoy its vivid 
portrait-gallery and the many mock-epic similes and descrip- 
tions that embellish the narrative. The following mock-epic 
simile, for instance, is a sustained piece of buffoonery: 


And thus the talk went round, and whispers grew 
To clamours that assailed the careless blue : 
As when two urchins on a city street 
From harmless words advance to hands and feet, 
And plaudits from the circumstantial throng 
Inflame their rage and hearten them along, 
Till saloon car, Victoria and the tram 
Are all confounded in one terrific jam. 

The Fund, like Popei's The Rape of the Lock, wished to 
laugh " party lust " out of court. It is probably, theLQnly mock- 
epic in Indo- Anglian literature ' The Muse of Poetry need 
H\5t always be immaculately solemn and serious ; she might, 
now and then, participate in the quips and cranks of life, 
drowning life's little ironies in a sea of healthy laughter. Mock- 
epics in their own way are real and earnest, and have the laws 
of their particular genre : and Menezes's exhibit is as good 
as any that the Indo-Anglians are likely ever to give u*>. 


Admirable as are The Emigrant and The Fund, it is, how- 
ever, in his Chords and Discords and Chaos and Dancing Star 
that Prof. Menezes has risen to his full stature as a poet. These 
two volumes bring together about one hundred pieces, display 
ing a pleasing variety in theme and treatment, in temper and 
technique. Prof. Menezes is a. .student of Latin poetry and 
no wonder he has a sensitive ear, too^an acute sense 
oTTorm. He is not carried away by the grotesque allurements 
of free verse and he is not blinded by the fashionable contor- 
tions of ultra-modernism. His themes are as old as the hills 
and the sea, but age withers them not, and in Menezes's hands 
the themes acquire a fresh beauty and make a pleasurable 
assault on our emotions. The tears in things, the facts of 
death ajndl decay, of inevitable change, of unescapable disinte- 


gration, these moved Lucretius and Moschus and Gray and 
Shelley to memorable song ; and the same themes constitute 
the enduring stuff of many of Menezes's sonnets and elegies. 
What theme can be more worn-out than the death of a child, 
and yet what can be more moving and "aching-intimate" 
than these four lines : 

Pure dewdrop ! whom the chilly wind of death 
Shook from the gloomy branches of our life, 

Grudging the spring his new-awakened breath, 
Unconscious yet of sorrow and of strife 

One reads the lines and one's pulses respond ; no need here 
to wrestle with Audenesque obscurities or Lawrentian compli- 
cated states of mind. 

Menezes is steeped in English poetry, and echoes from 
the masters raise ripples of reminiscent enjoyment in ever- 
widening sequence. The Sweeper's Song recalls Thomas Hood's 
The Song of the {Shirt : but Menezes's is no bare imitation, 
it is a moving poem in itself: 

Sweep, sweep, sweep 

And I cast in the gutter man's fever and flutter, 
And I sweep into my bin man's sanctity and sin 

Sweep, sweep, sweep 
And my dust is the dust that is gathered unto sleep. 

There is no trick of utterance here, no artificial pose ; it is 
but the pathos of the sweeper's vocation made poetically mani- 
fest. Again, the conceit in the sonnet entitled Gifts seems to 
have been suggested by Shelley's " One word is too often pro- 
faned * ; however, the fact of the echo but enriches the 
emotional content of Menezes's poem : 

I dare not give the mintage of my mind 
Soiled with the market dust of every day 

And tarnished with the breath of mortal aong; 


But will you take my love of humankind, 
The purity of prayers when I pray, 

And silences beyond the dream of song? 

Similarly, the magnificent pageantry of The Mighty Lover 
contains echoes from Rupert Brooke's famous poem. To say 
all this is not to deride the poetry of Menezes. Most poetry 
is necessarily derivative. There is, in fact, as Thomas Hardy 
pointed out, no new poetry; all that the new poet can hope 
to do is to come with a new note. The poets are for ever exploit 
ing the same old themes ; but if they pipe aright, their songs 
are for ever new. 

Armando Menezes is rooted in tradition, and that is the 
measure of his strength. Especially in his recent poems, he 
has shown himself an unblemished craftsman in verse. None 
but an accomplished craftsman could have achieved the art- 
istic triumphs of Ode to Beauty, Ode to Laughter, To Silence, 
The Phoenix and Hampi. The raw-stuff of exultation or awe or 
effervescent regret is moulded into things of beauty. We are 
willing to chime in chorus with him either cataloguing the 
good things of the world or welcoming " auroral laughter " or 
musing in the midst of the ruins of Vijayanagar or 
feeling enraptured by the saffron after-glow of a November 
sunset at Dharwar. The rhythms gradually enter the fabric 
of our memories, and we then repeat lines like- 

A fire-red evening inns between the rims . 

A hush has fallen, a sweeping bird, 
And caught our lives for evermore .... 

Dark imps of pain, angels of grace above,'*" 
Brokers of understanding and of love 

Aixt so Mtenezes sings, achieving beautiful lines, impri- 
soning worlds of aching pain or universes of ecstatic joy. He 
is content with themes even as "stale" as 


the heart's brave gold ; 
Love, leaping from the rock, eternal birth; 

Heaven's grace ; and furrowed patience of the fields. 

Occasionally we hear a " modern " note. The Tram is remini- 
scent of Stephen Spender's The Express ; To a Fallen One is 
grounded on a towering sympathy that is (one hopes) signi- 
ficantly modern. But even in these poems the touch is never 
harsh, and one hardly notices that they connote any deviation 
from tradition. 

In his latest and best pieces, Armando Menezes has tried 
to achieve the twin harmonies necessary to the highest poetry, 
viz. the union of word with the idea and the harmony of the 
Poet's inner and outer experiences : Art is form being resolved 
out of matter, harmony being resolved out of chaos. Prof. 
Menezes, like his own poet, may be " sitting upon the ruined 
heap of his self-blasted years " ; he may be sensitive to " broken 
melodies" and to "Life's rude billows" and " barren hopes 
and coward fears." These, however, do not embitter him 
and turn his life-purposes awry. He is sustained by Love 
and by Faith ; he holds colloquy with Death unabashed ; he 
quietly affirms : 

Because I bowed me level with the sod, 

And kneeled before the loveliness of you, 
My very senses cry out, There is God ! 

He gazes up to the sky, " henceforth mine own and thy domi- 
nion " ; and, undaunted by defeats, he feels that he is the 
heir of immortality. Prof. Menezes's " message " is thus one 
of hope, and his happiest mood one of prayerful ecstasy. 

A much younger poet, Manual C. Rodrigues, has publish- 
ed two books of verse : Songs in Exile and Homeward. Stray 
lines, at times a whole stanza, catch the reader's attention : 


And ye musicians of ethereal birth 
Who thrill the heartstrings of the Earth ! 

Strike all your golden chords and shake 
The world to laughter, that my love may wake 
To sing the word I love 

Home to the immortal joys of friends 

To the land of beauty and love, 
Where the heart is as wide as the ocean-tide 
And deep as the blue above ...... 

Of course, Rodrigues is as yet only a poet of promise and he 
stumbles and falters in his verse far too often. But he feels 
like a poet, and he should go far. George V. Coelho, " Tehmi ", 
F. M. Femandes, A. Aguiar, and several others are also con- 
tributing occasional verses to various periodicals. It will, 
however, be the task of a future chronicler to comment on 
their work. 



Mr^K^i^S^ma, whose first book of verse, Artist Love, 
was published under the pseudonym " Madallo " about fifteen 
years ago, has lately published another collection of lyrics 
entitled The Secret Splendour (1941), described on the jacket 
as containing " poems seeking a new intensity of vision and emo- 
tion, a mystic inwardness that catches alive the deepest rhythms 
of the spirit ". 

The difficulty withjuch mystic poetry is that it tends to be 

obscure. The Spirit cannot be envisaged or experienced or de- 

^Iscribed in strictly material terms ; jvordsjiaye to. be^usedLas, 

symbols ; and often these symbols!, while they may have their 

"valid connotations for the poet himself, merely baffle the com- 



mon reader. Like Blake's Urizen, Urthona, Luvah and Tharmas, 
the symbols of mystic poetry generally scare away the average 
devotees of poetry. Trying to give expression to the unword- 
able, to give shape to the ineffable and the wholly unreal, the 
Laureate of the Spirit is compelled to resort to unusual images 
and similitudes. If, however, the symbolism is {perfectly re- 
alized in terms of poetry as, for instance, in Thompson's The 
Hound QjSqHeavvn and Sri Aurobindo's Rose of God we can 
apprehend the significance at once, even if we cannot explain 
word by word the whole poem. 

Mr. Sethna too can achieve this transfiguration of mystical 
craving or mystical experience into the true sublime of poetry. 
Here is a little poem, Grace, as earnest and clear and beautiful 
as any 4 in his book : 

Take all my shining hours from me. 
But hang upon my quiet soul's 

Pale brow your dream-kiss like a gem. 
Let life fall stricken to its knee, 
If unto lone- faced poverty 

You give your blessing's diadem. 
Make of these proud eyes beggar-bowls, 

But only drop your smile in them. 

Appeal is even more direct in its imagery and insinuates its 
meaning with fervour and tenderness : 

My feet are sore, Beloved, 

'With agelong quest for Thee; 
Wilt Thou not choose for dwelling 

This lonesome heart of me? 
Is it too poor a mansion ? 

But surely it is poor 
Because Thou never bringest 

Thy beauty through its door ! 

The two remaining stanzas of the poem are also expressed with 
similar intensity and clarity. 


But there are other poems where the erode imagery seems 
to be forced or out of place and where the vision is imperfectly 
fused with poetic imagery. We are not, however, to judge a poet 
by his failures, but rather by his triumphs ; and Sethna'a tri- 
umphs, are there for all to read, to admire, and to ponder over. 
This Errant Life, among the very best things that Sethna has 
done, has received a high measure of praise at the hands of Sri 
Aurobindo ; and no doubt there is an indefinable blend of the 
human and the divine, of Earth and Heaven, in its haunting rhy- 
thms : 

This errant life is dear although H dies .... 
If Thou desirest my weak self to outgrow 
Its mortal longings, lean down from above, 
Temper the unborn light no thought can trace, 
Suffuse my mood with a familiar glow. 
For 'tis with mouth of clay I supplicate : 
Speak to me heart to heart words intimate, 
And all thy formless glory turn to love 
And mould Thy love into a human face. 

Sri Aurobindo, to whom Sethna is merely " Amal " or 
"Amalkiran ", has justly praised "the glowing impassioned 
severity of phrase " of the last line quoted above ; and, indeed, 
the entire poem is suffused with a. glow that illumines our very 
souls. Mr. Sethna may not appeal to a wide public but he 
will have discriminating admirers enough. His brother, H. D. 
Sethna, and his sister, Minnie Sethna, are also poets of con- 
siderable promise. 


Like Mr. Sethna, there are several others Dilip Kumar 
Roy, Ndini Gupta, Amrita, Anilbaran Roy, Nirodbaran and 
Punjalal who also owelKSf main inspiration to Sri Aurobindo. 
SnflEaran is one of the three or four reliable interpreters of 


Sri Aurobindo's philosophy and Yoga ; he is primarily not a 
poet at all, but his Songs from the Soul (1939)' contains some 
very moving prose poems and 1 nearly a score of Imetrical poems 
besides. Many of the prose poems are addressed to the Divine 
Mother and although they are in prose deserve to be described 
as " songs from the soul ". 

A fair specimen of Anilbaran's rhythmic prose as also his 
devotional intensity may be given : 

" I am emptying my heart and soul, Mother, so that Thou 
mayest fill me with Thy own sdf. Come to me in Thy full- 
ness, come as light, come asi power, come as joy. 

v Descend into me as light, dispel all darkness from me, fill 
me with the knowledge of truth ; give me the insight by which 

I can always discriminate between truth and falsehood ". 

44 A^ahafcali ", " Conquest of Desires! ", " Rest and Silence " and 
" Divine Presence " are some of the other well-sustained prose 
potfns in the collection. 

Anilbaran's metrical pieces albeit the same thought and 
inspiration are behind themi are yet less satisfactory as poems. 
Eternal Smile imitates Sri Aurobindo's Trance; and while it 
does not attain the rounded perfection of the original, its second 
stanza at least is worth quoting : 

My mind is ensnared by gilded show, 

Smoke still the offering of fire, 
Surprised is the heart by joy and woe, 

Racked the flesh by tyrannous desire. 

Of all these metrical pieces, Mahakali is, perhaps, the most 
"poetically conceived and the most vividly expressed : 

Thine is the fiery will that mocks 

Faint-hearted compromise ; 
Ruthless thou sharest all that blocks 

Our path to Paradise. 


The thunders whirl at Thy command, 

O flaming, beautiful Mother ! 
Thou smitest with one mighty hand, 

And savest with the other. 
Pervasive of Thy tameless ire 

Is all all-puissant love ; 
It leads us through the test of fire 

To immortal gates above. 

Anilbaran's prose works include Mother India, The Mes- 
sage of the Gita, Indicfs Mission in the World and Sri Auro- 
bindo and the New Age. ' JEfe is a clear-headed and widely read 
man and he wields an effective English prose style. 


Nolini Kanta Gupta, the secretary of the Sri Aurobindo 
Asram and the " right-hand man of Sri Aurobindo", is in the 
main an essayist and an authoritative expounder of his Guru's 
teachings. Some of his collections of essays, The Coming Race, 
The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Malady of the Century 
( 1943) , reveal at once his scholarship and his wisdom as also 
his urbanity and his mastery of the English language. His sub- 
jectsl range from " Modernism " and "Divine Humanism" to 
" Hamlet " and " Tagore ", from " The Nietzschean Antichrist " 
and "The Creative Soul" to "Rationalism" and "Commu- 
nism", from "European Culture" and "Art and Katharsis" 
to " Indian Art " and Thoughts on the " Unthinkable ". Mr. 
Nolini Kanta Gupta is revealed by these essays as a man of 
austere and uncomprom|ising wisdotai. He is apparently vers- 
ed in many languages and his interests, too, are comimendably 
varied. He commands a dry, clear, hard and trenchant prose 
style and his eajmestness and scholarship can be noticed on 
almost every page of his books. 


Besides his prose writings, he has also published about fifty 
poems under the title To the Heights. His Psalms are power- 
fully articulated and have obviously risen from the depths of 
his heart ; although they are made up of irregular lines, the 
" psaltns " strike the proper n.ote of prayer and ecstasy. The 
following four, lines may be cited as a typical specimen : 

All my heart melts into a fountain; of gratitude 
And tears rush to the eyes 
Such sweet tears, angel-stars that come from afar 
With healing Peace and Bliss. > 

Here is another, no less typical, specimen from Sursum Corda : 

There is a breath that moves the mountains, 
There is a touch that makes the dead arise, 
There, is a voice that is the doom of yesterday, 
And the radiant herald of Tomorrow. 

It is, however, the thought-content rather than the ex- 
pression, the strength rather than the melody, of these poems 
that strikes one as distinguished and meritorious. The Gesture 
of Grace, The March into the Night, White and Red, all em- 
bodyt an, abiding richness 1 of thought. White and Red, especial- 
ly, is informed by a funious drive of compelling, thought which 
crystallizes into many a memorable phrase ; in it the dyna- 
mics of spirituality find indeed a notable expression in the 
recognizable accents of poetry. 

Nolini's forte is nevertheless neither the prose essay 
nor the metrical poem but rather the thoughtful epigram. 
In his slender book, Towards the Light, he has given us a col- 
lection of these jewelled epigrams; many of these are so 
good that they compare not unfavourably with Sri Aurbbindo's 
Thoughts and Glimpses. One or two of Nolini Kanta Gupta's 
" thoughts and glimpses " may be given here : 


14 Let the taste of Immortality fill my mouth .... all 
mortalities will turn insipid ". 

" Truth is Beauty's substance it is Beauty self-gathered. 

Beauty is Delight perfectly articulate. 

Love is Beauty enjoying itself. 

Knowledge is the light that Beauty emanates. 

Power is the fascination that Beauty exerts". 

44 The secret of joy is self-giving. If any part of you is 
without joy, it means that it has not given itself, it wants to 
keep it for itself ". 


Dilip Kumar Roy, son of the famous Dwijendralal Roy, 
is one of the colourful personalities in the Yogasram at Pondi- 
"cherry. His Bengali devotional poetry is said to be of a 
" flame-like purity ". Like many another young man, Dilip 
lost his 4t faith as a result of his European education ; he 
experienced for a time the nightmare of Unbelief ; but Pondi- 
cherry effected a spiritual cure and he is able once again, and 
again and again, to affirm the Everlasting Yea. 

'Djhp is a musical artiste no less than a devotional poet ; 
h$ sings songs and he writes lyrics because he cannot 4 help sing- 
ing or writing ; he is veritably the Ariel of the Sri Aurobindo 
Asrara A Song of Mira, The Dancer's Rhythm, Jteyond 
Questioning, Kanya Kumari, Shadow-mood, The Little Singer 
and Krishna to Arjun are some of the pieces that are immedi- 
ately effective and charm and feast the ear as a mere matter 
of course. Not less successful are Soul Surrendering and the 
colloquy between an Ancestor and his Scion. In the latter 
poem, the scion is represented as revering his ancester ; and yet 
he cannot help claiming the freedom to build on his own ! 

Another recent poem, Aft Aspiring, is loftily conceived and 
sweeps magnificently on to its beautiful climax in the lines : 


In thy ether I shall fly, 

Dower with wings my clay-born art, 

deep starry secrecy 

Twinkling in my heart. 

The poems addressed to Sri Aurobindo and the specifically 
mystical poems The New Advent, for instance are parti- 
cularly convincing as recordations of belief and moving as 
poetic utterances. 

Dilip's most ambitious work so far is his long narrative 
poem on the issue between Prahlada and his demou-father, 
Hiranyakashipu. Written in competent blank verse, this poem 
is part narrative and part dialogue ; in the first section, Prah- 
lada and the Demon are the protagonists ; presently, Vishnu as- 
sumes the shape of Narasimha and destroys the Demon. The 
rest of the poem, by far the greater part, is devoted to the 
elaboration of the philosophy of self-surrender to the Supreme. 

It is no easy thing to maintain the reader's interest over 
a poetn on the face of it, a philosophical poem of about 
seven hundred lines ; but Dilip has performed this feat. The 
two dialogues in the poem the shorter one between Father 
and Son and the longer, more important one between the 
Divine and the Devotee are contrived with an easy natural- 
ness ; and, although now and then Prahlada strikes us as 
rather long-winded, the general impression is one of propriety 
and adequacy. 

Dilip's blank verse is sufficiently flexible and gives us pas- 
sages like : 

Siren Maya 
Accosts us in her loveliest garbs and guises 

To test our sailor souls' sea- worthiness 


Could we, flawed creatures, yearn to stainlessness, 
Dark waifs aspire for thy white haven of sleep, 


With voice of clay sing to the immortal stars 
Were thy divinity not ours by right ? 

Dilip has fumbled his way to the secret and his best blank 
verse passages have the authentic chime. He is continually im- 
proving the power of his expression and great things might be 
expected from him in the future. 

Another Pondicherry poet is the Gujarati, Punjalal, whose 
LofuTPetds came out early in 1943. Punjalal's is essential- 
ly a devotional muse, and the twenty-four pieces in Lotus Petals 
are all dedicated to the Mother of the Yogasram at Pondicher- 
ry. Punjalal is no fastidious metrist, but his deep piety and 
utter sincerity express themselvesi with a disarming simplicity 
and naturalness in these devotional lyrics. Child's Claims is 
a song of joyful self-surrender : 

My life to Thee I wholly consecrate 
For Thy celestial plan of work on earth ; 
If Thou vShouldst need, I will not hesitate 
A million times again to come to birth. 

This attitude, this Sadhana of utter self-consecration to 
the Divine Mother or to Her human-divine prototype is the 
marjara, the baby-cat, method of surrendering in complete 
trustfulness to the mother. It is underlined in poem after 
poem, and Punjalal invariably strikes the proper note. He has 
attempted different stanza forms and now and then he uses 
a French word with effect ; but the poems deserve high com- 
mendation, not for the memorability of their diction or the 
unerring movements of their rhythm, but rather for their 
deep and almost contagious devotion. How simple, how great 
is the faith that utters 1 strains like : 

The less I seek, the more I find 
Thy captivating Grace : 


It comes and clasps my wayward mind 
And greets me face to face, 

And it is a profound happiness happiness in the conscious- 
ness that one's whole life has been offered as a sacrifice to the 
Mother that seeks expression in these beautiful stanzas : 

No sorrow and no care assail my mood 
That has grown intimately merged in Thine ; 
The True, the Beautiful, the Ever-good 
Has blessed me with a comradeship divine. 

My little stream has come to Thee at last 
Traversing tyrant lengths of Time and Space, 
And found in Thee its dreaming's ocean vast, 
And now it gives its heart to Thy embrace. 

Punjabi's verses are the by-products of his Yoga of atma- 
samarpana; they; are inspiring things to read; and they show 
that* their author is a devotee among devotees. 

Another Sadhaka of the Sri Aurobindo Asram, Nirodbaran, 
is, a physician by training ; but he too writes devotional poetry 
frequently. The Cry of Earth and The Presence are two of the 
more satisfactory among his/ poetic attempts ; The Master, ad- 
dressed to Sri Aurobindo, is equally good. Life is a pitiful 
business ; 

Our dreams are born of Time's ephemeral breath, 
Our hopes, pursued by shadow-wings of death ; 
Pale like a waning moon, they leave behind 
A trail across the azure of the mind. 

Nirod therefore hymns the glory of the Master who has con- 
sented to wear a human face to be able to " lead us back to 
our home of felicity." 


Of other mystic, religious or devotional poets we have 
here no space to speak in detail. Anandacharya, Vivekananda, 


J. Krishnamurti, and^ several others have attongted^pftejc^ with 
"considerable success, to turn their thoughts and inspirations 
into either verse of*poetic prose. Krishnamurti'si The Immortal 
Friend and Anandacharya's Usarika and Saki may all 
be read with profit. j\nandacharya is a true poet ; but his^ 
verse rhythms* are intriguing, unconventional and most tantali- 



I Mr. A. F. Kabardar is considered to be one of the most 
distinguished of present-day Gujarati poets ; but he has also 
given us in The -Silken \Tassel a collection of thirty of his ori- 
ginal poems in English.^) 

Kabardar is a traditionalist. His themes are the tradi- 
tional themes of life and love, of man and nature. Many of 
tHejpoems in The Silken Tassel are the expressions of parti- 
cular moods. He surrenders himself as readily to a mood of 
seeming Hedonism as to one of austerity : 

v^Fair is the weather, light is the boat, 

Life must have its merry sweet note 

Life is virtue, life is duty, 

Life is but one painful beauty. 

Elsewhere Kabardar revels in a mood melancholy or yields to 
a feeling of disillusionment ; and he pipes out his songs with 
the same ease and art. 

In other 'poems, Kabardar vivifies particular scenes with 
admirable art. A passage like the following from Sita Rama 
remains in the reader's memory for a long time : 


And the busy momenta gather 

All the fruits of toiling skies, 

While the full-blown flowers are gleaming 

In the noon-tide's golden dreaming 

Of the hopes that ever grow ; 

Hark ! the words there, loud and streaming 

In the long street flow : 

" Sita Rama ! Sita Rama ! 

Sita Rama, ho-!" 

Again, Radhiktfs Perplexity evokes a memorable scene with 
an artless though convincing simplicity. Radhika carries her 
pots to the village well " when dawn has lifted her veil " ; her 
lover comes behind her " slowly and slyly " : 

I turn my face, but he looks in my eyes, .... 
I walk away with a gentle push. 

As the sun is high in the sky, 
I hear my name through some magical flute, 

And I turn behind to spy, 
My curds fall down and he looks in my face, 
And laughs and passes by. 

Mr. Kabardar's place is, no doubt, in Gujarati literature; 
but he is also, in his own right, one of the distinctive figures 
in Indo-Angliani poetry. 


Mr. T. Basker published, in 1932, a slim volume of twenty- 
four poems entitled, Passing Clouds. All, or almost all, the 
"poems are a delight to read. Basker is neither profound in his 
thoughts nor unexpected or original in hiss rhythms ; but, then, 
neither is he flat or obscure or crude or faltering. His neat 
turns of phrase and easy rhythms make an immediate appeal : 

She was a daughter of the South, 
With haunting eyes and lovely mouth ; 
She held me in a rosy mesh, 
The poetry of her flesh .... 


Occasionally, Basket grows a trifle solemn and philosophical : 
Ah ! love, these woes, these joys for which we yearn, 
Are they not petty, infinitely small, 
Within this mighty scheme that holds us all ? 

This tone of serious introspection does not, however, quite 
become Basker's care-free muse ; he is at his best in a poem 
like Dusk, in which his mood of wistful melancholy coalesces 
with the familiar images to make a pretty and an almost 
exquisite poem : 

The jasmines blossom still, and dusk 
Is rose and gold. 

But you don't cull the half-blown buds 
As of old. 

The sunset lingers In the west, 

Red as blood ; 

But death has culled you from our midst : 

A half-blown bud. 

Mr. Basker's poems are for all ; especially are they wel- 
come to young people who can readily respond to his charactei- 
istically youthful moods and musings. 


Mr. S. R. Dongerkery published his first volume .of poem^ 
The Ivory Tower, in October 1943.. Before the publication of 
this book, Mr. Dongerkery was known to a considerable public 
in many capacities as a Solicitor of the Bombay High Court ; 
as the author of two or three meritorious and useful legal 
treatises ; and above all, since 1930, as the efficient Registrar 
of the University of Bombay. 

But very few among Mr. Dongerkery's own acquaintances 
could have expected that he would blossom one day, overnight 
as it were, into an authentic and accomplished English poet. 
Indeed, Mr. Dongerkery himself had perhaps little self-know- 


ledge in the matter. For he seems to have taken the long, 
winding and slippery road to Parnassus almost by accident. 
A visit to "Jog" Falls about four years ago seems to have, 
so to say, precipitated this setf-discovery. He wrote on that 
occasion he could not help writing with disarming ease and 
fluency : 

The " Raja " holds unchallenged sway ; 
The " Roarer " thunders all the way ; 
The " Rocket " speeds athwart the rock ; 
The ".Lady" in her silvery frock 
Stands by and gazes .... 

Dongerkery had lisped in numbers, and the numbers had come 
freely and purposively ; he knew that he was a poet now, that 
the vocation was not something to flee from, on the contrary, 
it were best to succumb to the insistent urge for poetic self- 
expression ! 

One by one the poems appeared over the intriguing initials 
" S. R. D." in papers like the Social Welfare, the Pushpa, the 
Indian Review, and the Bombay Chronicle Weekly ; one poem 
at any rate \The Shadow-Play appeared in the Modern 
Review over his full name. A Registrar of a University, and 
still a poet but why not? Who are we to generalize about 
poets and poetry ? Humbert Wolfe was a Civil Service man 
and a poet ; Ross was a Malaria specialist and a poet ; 
Julian Huxley was a Zoologist and a poet ; Binyon was a 
librarian and a poet ; well, then, let us grant that Donger- 
kery can be an efficient Registrar of a University and be also 
a poet by right and virtue of his indubitable achievements ! 


The Ivory Tower is a collection of nearly sixty lyrics. In 
the title poem fit is, indeed, a jewel of a title Dongerkery 
succinctly and beautifully brings out both the feeling of isolation 


and the consciousness of puissance that the poet the true 
poet experiences in his Ivory Tower. Although an Ivory 
Tower is often supposed to be the refuge of skulkers and mis- 
fits, an " Ivory Tower " life need not necessarily mean cowardly 
" escapism " ; reticence is not indifference, and silence is not 
always a proof of insensitiveness. A poet retires to an Ivory 
Tower, not with a feeling of defeat and despair, but with the 
will to live and the will to create. The sense of regret, the 
feeling of isolation, the viperous pang of unfulfilled desire, 
these are short-liv^d ; the poet's vitality asserts itself after 
a brief sojourn to the Ivory Tower his muse " now plumes 
her feathera and lets grow her wings " and the poet sings 
in the full consciousness of his recovered strength : 

Though thus my Muse may live alone 
Within an ivory tower, 
Her flowering thoughts by breezes blown 
Shall wield their fragrant power ; 

And from her soul a rainbow hurled 
Shall bridge the gulf that lies 
Betwixt her prison and the world 
That throbs beyond the skies. 

It is clear from these lines that the Ivory Tower of 
Dongerkery's conception is very different from the Lady of 
Shallott's lone tower on the way to Camelot ; rather, its appa- 
rent self-limitation does also imply it is, indeed, a necessary 
prelude to its capacity for infinite self-expansion and world- 
comprehension. While Dongerkery's poem is no doubt a vivid 
expression of the poet's divine discontent, it is no less a memo- 
rable affirmation of the poet's monumental puissance and un- 
cabinned sovereignty. 

In several of the other poems in the collection notably 
in To the Lyric, Changed Values, Inspiration, The Poet and 
Why Poets Sing Dongerkery muses on different aspects of the 


poetic faculty, sometimes wistfully, sometimes half-playfully, 
but always to good effect : 

The Poet sees things upside down , 

To him the world's a wonder-book 

Of fairy tales in pictures 

'And the last poem in the collection, The Ivory TowerAnother 
View, is a final reaffirmation of the poet's great mission and 
puissance. The Ivory Tower that the poet inhabits is no 
Castle of Indolence or Bower of Bliss ; it stands " upon Truth's 
solid rock " . 

A thin'-walled ivory tower, 

Built light but strong by fairy hands 

With thought's creative power .... 

The Tower is thus our great Insurance Policy ; other things 
may fail us, but the Tower will not fail us ; and 

. . . though the Earth be torn to shreds 
By human lust and greed, 
The poet with his fancy's threads 
Re- weaves love's golden creed 

New visions born of mystic power 
Will range themselves around 
Until within the ivory tower 
A shining world be found 

This world, at any rate, will not share our human limitations 
of decay and death ; it will whirl ceaselessly, and abide for 
ever ! 

The poems in The Ivory Tower "are grouped under three 
heads- Love, Beauty, Truth ; but several of the poems listed 
under Truth may equally appropriately figure under one of 
the other two headings, Love, Beauty, Truth, Man, God and 
Nature, morning, noon and evening, night, the stars and the 


moon, joy, pain and resignation, defeat, frustration and 
triumph, the beauty of smiles and tears, the love of man for 
woman, the utter truth of all that have been and are, these, 
only these alone, are the current coin of Dongerkery's poetry ! 

Of course, there is nothing " new " in such poetry unless 
poetry, by just being poetry, is for ever the same and yet for 
ever new. Dongerkery is no modernist revelling in sack-cloth 
and cipher, in complicated states of mind and a Juggernaut 
phraseology. He is very much of a traditional poet, he is clear- 
headed and serious, he is easy and lucid. A poem like The 
Toll of Love, with its plain-song simplicities and charming, dis- 
arming conceits, might have been written by a Caroline, even 
by an Elizabethan poet : 

I went on plundering Nature's store, 
And made the moon, the stars, the sun 
Their treasures at her feet to pour, 
Anld yet her heart I had not won ! 

But when my bleeding heart I poured 
Before her eyes without a groan, 
A speechless victory I scored 
And she could hold no more her own ! 
Love, again, is another exquisite poem, and the extra rhyme 
at the end does reinforce the meaning of the last line : 

I weave the pattern of romance 
With feeling, colour, song and dance, 

Arid draw upon rich Nature's store 

For gifts I bring to Beauty's door, 

With her to dwell for evermore. 

And so Dongerkery sings sings of life and love, of the romance 
that lurks behind the most common sights and sounds, of baby's 
eyes and their intimations of "other worlds", of clouds and 
sunshine, of the rose-bud and the lotus, of the Taj and the 
Garden *of Brindavan, of the Buddha and the Trimurti, of 
Gandhiji's fast and the sights and sounds of rural India. 


Dongerkery is especially successful as a poet of Nature^ 
jarymglnocxis. In lines like the following he achieves a sensu- 
ousness that is effective at once : 

The Sun at midday halts, with passion burning, 
And hugs the sleeping sea in his embrace. 

" Evening ", for instance, is a fatally alluring theme ; it is also 
a most elusive one. A Collins, an Eliot, writes once in a way 
in the accents of immortality about " Evening " ; but Donger- 
kery too seems to have wormed himself into the heart of the 
mystery and, in his Evening, he has certainly produced a con- 
vincing picture. The homely sight of the aged folk 

The aged folk, their wrinkled faces sunning, 
' Sit chatting idly near the cottage door 

is as familiar as it is unforgettable. And the last few lines 
bring out the elusive spirit of evening without any overdoing 
of effect : 

Life's ardour cools, with shades of eve approaching, 
And man, world-wearied, turns away his gaze 
From outward forma of things 



Although Dongerkery is in main content to sweep the lyre 
of Happiness, he too and who has not ? has come across 
pain and' evil, ugliness and vulgarity ; but he would not allow 
them to sour the tenour or soil the texture of his poetry. An 
Unextinguished Spark is, for example, an elegy on the death 
of a child ; as an elegy, it is a moving poem in six poignant 
stanzas. Just a few phrases and images " a bud frost-nipped " 
... "a promise made, withdrawn " ... "a fading star not 

dawn " . . 

First letter of a half-formed word, 

Attuned to snapping strings. 


A ray of light, enveloped, lost 
In dark storm-clouds of death, 
A little boat seen skyward tossed, 
A stifled fragrant breath. 
A pebble on the shore of Time, 
Washed back into the sea 

and these images and excruciating phrases evoke a very full 
picture of the poet's feeling of intense grief and desolation. 
But even this elegy closes on a note pf serene philosophical 
resignation : 

The spark of Life shall never die . . 

Pray, let no tear be shed, for tears 
May quench the spark and kill 

The soul whose fire, with shining spheres, 
Keeps bright and burning still. 

It will be seen from these extracts that Dongerkery's is 
essentially a chaste and chastened muse. Some readers may 
not perhaps stomach his inveterate philosophizing ; but, as a 
matter of fact, it is rarely obtrusive. It is rather to Donger- 
kery's credit that he has Faith, that like his own Poet he is 

Unshadowed by the sneaking doubt 
That haunts life's darkened alley ; 

he has both faith and vision, he knows that terrestrial life is 
not all ; and he is intrigued by the impenetrable mystery of 
the soul 

A flickering flame that lights 1 the whole 
'With its uncertain ray. 

The impact of life and Nature on the poetv however 
tempestuous or violent by itself, is thus ever conveyed in terms 
of resolved peace and tranquil joy. Dongerkery is content to 
hitch his waggon to the Pole Star of Tradition and finds in 
the eternal verities and in perennial human values ample sub* 
ject-matter for his limpid and home-spun melodies. It 


is, therefore, most refreshing to read the poems in 
The Ivory Tower after experiencing violent headaches while 
wrestling with modernists like Basil Bunting, Louis Zukofsy, 
Dylan Thomas and Ezra Pound. 

There is, however, one noticeable limitation in much of 
Dongerkery's poetry it does not transport us, lift us altogether 
off our feet, overwhelm us with the sheer power of its rhyth- 
mic utterance. But this is a limitation that his poetry shares 
with most Indo-Anglian and even most present-day English 
poetry ; and this should not blind us to the fact that many 
of Dongerkery's poems are really fine and distinctive in thought 
and style, and that quite a few achieve a high and haunting 
beauty that we cannot be sufficiently thankful for. And, per- 
haips, in the near future, Dongerkery may be able to do even 
better in the realms of rhyme and give us, not only very good 
poems (for this he has done already and done frequently}, 
but also poems achieving an utter sublimity and finality in 


Mr. Adi K. Sett is the author of a book of short stories 
entitled I Chameleons and a monograph on Shah Jahan, but he 
has also published some very good poems. They Shall Not 
Die, a war-inspired poem published a few months ago, is 
characteristic of his style : 

Let this dark hour be swift 

And the Dawn near, 

Give usi the strength to build the Future 

On the anguish, the blood, the toil, the tears 

Of those who are but memories. 

They shall not die. 

Sett s best poems reveal the sensuousoess, sincerity and pas- 
sion of the true poet. Memory, Tailini, Song of Love and My 


Beloved is Dead have the ring of good poetry. His muse 
generally prefers reticence to garrulity, and hence his output 
is far from copious. But he remains an interesting figure on 
the present-day Indo-Anglian literary scene and it is to be 
hoped that his stature will grow in the years to come. 



Srimati Bharati Sarabhai had already published a number 
of poems in periodicals like The London Mercury, The Indian 
P. E. N., Indian Writing (London), Art and Culture and The 
Modern Review before she brought out two years ago her 
poetic play, The Well of the People. If the earlier poems 
revealed her ^qujsite sensibility, the play revealed besides her 
sense of Indian culture, her keen grasp of Mother India's pre- 
sent predicament, her imaginative richness, and her growing 
mastery over the instrument of English verse. 

Alike in her play and in her poems, Srimati Bharati Sara- 
bhai attempts to portray the tears in things, the unutterable 
pathos of Pain, the feeling of isolation that creeps into the 
lives of most human beings, the beauty that dwells alongside 
of Pain in this vale of tears. They turned her Back and Blood- 
leds bloodred Rays are both finely conceived and are spoken 
with a trembling sensitiveness. To the Sun begins very well : 

This early dawn you were a new 
Full Moon, orange arisen. 
My heart was stabbed 
I fought with beauty I knew 
it was too soon 
for the rumoured moon 
Still I cried it was not You ! 


Another poem, Left Out . . . ., is a little poetical comment- 
ary on the fact of manfs ineradicable isolation in a world of 
hurry and strife. There are moments when this feeling of 
isolation stirs within him v^ry uncomfortably : 

At that time you have no meaning, none. 
Only space and time, darkness and night .... 
Know you, O man, that there is a time 
Where you have no place, 
Are not merely crowded out. 

While the above two poems, both of which originally 
appeared in The Indian P. E. N., are remarkable more for 
their intellectual and emotional content than for their rhyth- 
mical expression, The Raiments of the Rainbow, which appeared 
seven years ago in- The London Mercury, is genuine and moving 
poejry. It is nobly conceived and is Dexterous in its rhythmic 
movement ; and throughout its sixty-five lines, there is hardly 
any exaggeration or false note. From its splendid opening : 

You have always seen me come 
In the raiments of the rainbow, 
A rainbow resplendent, 
On the thirsting earth a pendant, 
In limpid play with adamant ; 

to the quivering, pathetic close : 

Would you know me if I were to come 

Without .these raiments of the rainbow? 

Maddening to my quiet 

Is my fate, 

The knowledge that you may not acknowledge 

The girl behind the raiment 

Of the rainbow ; 

from the first line to the last the poem is a splendorous speci- 
men of the " new " poetry and it therefore fully deserves Prof. 


E. E. Speight's opinion that "here is Work refreshing in its 
independence of English tradition in phrasing and rhythm ". 


The Well of the People is a poetic pageant rather than 
a^ play ; but it .immediately places Bharati in the front-rank 
of Indo- Anglian poetesses. Like Aru and Toru Dutt, like 
Sarojini Naidu, Bharati too is heir to the eternal feminine and 
her rhythms, although they come with a new note, are without 
question poetic rhythms. In one sense, indeed, The Well of the 
People is a more ambitious, a more important, work than any 
that either Toru or Sarojini ever did ; the play, the pageant, 
the static drama unfolded in The Well of the People, is an 
attempt to seize and portray the inmost core of the present 
"condition" of the country. It is almost a testament wrung 
from the long-suffering children of Mother India. 

The story of The Well of the People can be briefly told., 
A Brahmin widow has been gathering coppers with ant-like 
persistence for years and years and yearsthe wages of a 
dedicated career of devotion at the altar of the Spinning Wheel. 
She has accumulated seventy rupees at last ; she could go now 
to distant Haridwar, or at least to holi Kashi. Would not 
her neighbours in the village take her to Haridwar? they 
would not ; for all she has " is not enough ", and so 

When Haridwar receded, leaving her 
Dry on the shore, she floated all her vows 
Like earthen lamps to nearer Benares. 

Again she begsi her villagers in vain ; she is checkmated by fate 
once more, she is dazed by her defeat, she just blinks the 
crazy old woman ! 

Suddenly who knows how? the thought occurs to her 
that she might utilize her savings for building a " temple well ". 


She stretches forth her thin shrivelled hand at one more phan- 
tom desire. With her seventy rupees and would not others 
put up another seventy rupees? -she would build a temple 
for the Hlarijans in her dear old village .... But the pitcher 
'is broken at the threshold of the well to be : " The old woman 

falls>forward orTthe ground." 
% / 
^l Round this story a true story in its main details 

Bharati has woven a strange fabric of symbolism and poetry, 
memory and melody, and the poem as a whole is uncomfort- 
ably evocative of the sweat on the Mother's brow, the load 
of anguish on her head, the pain of frustration in her battered 
heart. The old widow is no doubt a seeming jest to many of 
her purblind villagers ; but hasn't she won a great victory in 
the very hour Of her defeat, hasn't she died only to be re- 
born into immortality ? She had felt the tongues of her 
people the people of the country and found them furrowed 
with thirst ; she had touched their hearts and found them fur- 
towed with the thirst for Faith, found them throbbing with 
diminishing alertness and force. Her "temple well" would 
give water to the people and it would bring Ganga herself to 
the people's hearts ; and the dead widow is thus aptly apostro- 
phized by the Chorus : 

Even now your senses lave, 
Fall and wash, splashing along 
Golden walls. Benaresi lies 
Within. You will live, live 
To see the people's well 
Spell in- rose golden walls 
Pouring dumb before your eyes. 


The Well of the People is more than a poetic recordation 
of the above story. The tormented unrest and disharmony 


of our times is conceived by Bharati in different planes of 
reality ; but the poem itself is a unity and no artificial hotch- 
potch, and it is, for the most part, piercingly articulate. The; 
characters, the situations, the many-hued pageantry at Hari- 
dwar, the excruciating scene in the village, all are fused into 
a vast symbol, as old as Kailas and Ganga and ocean depths 
and as modern as railway-tracks and coal-driven bu&s and 
preventive inoculations. Perhaps, we should have liked the 
poem more if it were less heavily dyed with " purpose " ; per- 
haps, too, the meritorious choruses might have been more con- 
sistently endowed with poetic edge and fire. But let us not^ 
ask too much ; Bharati has given us an excellent verse play, 
a drama that is played in a multi-dimensional universe, a 
poem that help us to effect if only for a Uttltf while our wel- 
come release from the stifling limitations of terrestrial life. 

Bharati Sarabhai was an asset to Indian letters even be- 
fore she published The Well of the People ; by giving us 4 this 
play, this austere and purposive work of art, she has added 
a whole cubit to her poetic stature and, incidentally, she has 
added a fresh and inspiring chapter to the story of Indo- Angli- 
an literature. Bharati is still young in years, but her poetry 
shows hardly any signs of immaturity in thought or style ; within 
a period of four or five years, her art has made very copsider- 
able progress, and she has definitely " arrived ". (And in 
Bharati, perhaps, the Mother, Bharata Mata, will find her 
heaven-sent minstrel, not only to hymn the lyrics of her star- 
crossed frustrations, but also the epics of her achievements 
and glories.) 


Unlike Bharati Sarabhai, who is consciously a modernist 
and even somewhat of a futurist poetess, Sabita Devi is a con- 


tented traditionalist in her themes, in her attitudes, and in her 
technique. Srimati Sabita Devi, th cinema star, needs, of 
course, no introduction to the Indian public ; she has won 
for herself an abiding place in the affections of a vast multitude 
of * fans ' and cinema-goers. As. an Indo- Anglian poetess, 
however, she is very little known except to a small circle 
that happened to buy her Phantasies when it was published in 
March 1943. 

In the little piece, Phantasies, Sabita lets her fancy roam 
for you know, as Keats knew, " pleasure never is at homel- 
and sees : 

Vivid phantasies, fleeting shadows kindled to existence, 
Transient hour of glorious pageantry, 
Vignettes through a silver frame. 

Radha " poised in tender reverie " .... Mumtaz " 'neath her 
jewelled veil " Seeta " fair and gallant as eternal woman- 
hood" invoking such romantic and inspiring visions, living 
in their alluring worlds, Sabita is as a child: 

lost amid my dreaming phantasies 
Vivid shadows with the breath of seeming life, 
Transient lamps to cheer the traveller on his mundane 


Light some lonely eyes to laughter 
Ere they fade into the nothingness of Time. 

This is fairly typical of Sabitafs poetry. She is not out to 
shock or tantalize or preach to the reader ; she rarely strikes 
up an attitude of prophecy ; she is content to be just a poet, 
watching the strange panorama of earthly life, now animatedly 
now languorously, but always with becoming womanliness and 
grace. A woman and an actress, Sabita weaves whole dream- 
wbrlds with her exquisite phantasies ; she has an unfailing, 
undeceived, and unfaltering eye for the beauty of Nature and 
of Life, of the beauty that subsists even in tears ; and she makes 


her poems dear pretty things ! out of her responses apd 

Sabita is apparently most at home in sweet Nature's com- 
pany. " Dawn " ^fascinates her : 

Aurora's blushes shimmer through her veil 

Of golden hair, 
The east is lost in ecstasy within 

Her arms .-*> fair .... 

Sabita has marked every line and curve on the physiognomy 
of Dawn, they have won her whole heart with their magic 
of paleness and music and romance, and she is very happy 
indeed to observe 

The light of morn, 

And earth and sky and universe saltite 
The blushing dawn. 

As in Phantasies, in Fairyland too Sabita describes her 
dream-world another vision patterned by the tilted kaleido- 
scope of her poetic temperament and, after spending an hour 
or two with the " dainty dancers " of this near-far Fairyland, 
we awake at last " through the veil of fading moon-kissed 
shades" as 

The eastern sky stirs languidly to light, 
Dispelling as a latent, lilting dream 
The fairy phantoms 1 of the magic night. 

The sense of trie loveliness of Dawn is rendered again in the 
opening lines of Perhaps : 

Or pearly dawn as bright as angel eyes 
Breathes benediction o'er the eastern blue ; 

but the poem is rather a wistful hymn of clinging hope. The 
years ahead must bring in their wake the tears of defeat and 
the disillusionment of age ; but the tears and the disillusion- 
ment will lose their sting if only as perhaps they willher 


dreams re-visit her in later years and even journey home with 
her as she crosses " Life's transient sea " ! 

The touch is light is these poems there are no fashion- 
able contortions in the language and one is happy to read 
poems like Nature's Music, The Joys of Life, Pride, Heaifs 
Desire, The Play, and Death's fieauty, all of which achieve 
their respective revelations without the adventitious aids of 
Audeneque and Eliotesque rhythms and Cummings-like jug- 
glery or obscurity. Sabita can strike a note of sadness as 
she can give out a pealing anthem of joy ; but she is always 
careful to preserve a sense of proportion, to preserve, in other 
words, her essential womanliness and grace. Death's Beauty 
is aluminous revelation ; there are no lurid colours in its mel- 
lowed radiance ; yes, yes, says Sabita, there is beauty in death, 
had we eyes to see it ; there is beauty in the withered flower, 
in the dying sunset's hour, in the fading of a dream, in the 
passing of the year ; and, above all, 

There is soft, beloved beauty on a dying Saviour's face, 
Transcendent love and beauty that enfolds the human 

. Perhaps, the finest of her poems is The Dying Swan's Fare- 
well, " an impression of Anna Pavlova's Swan C>ance " ; it is an 
impressionistic picture endowed with the lilt and grace and 
melancholy of the dying Swan's bitter-sweet dance ; and long 
after one has finished reading the poem, the echoes of the 
Swan's "Goodbye" linger in the chambers of one's subcon- 
scious self : and one is very grateful to Sabita for this abiding 
picture of the dying swan and of the peerless Pavlova herself. 
Some of the poems in PhantasiesPrelude to Victory, 
The Fourteenth of July and In This Our Timeart 


the distillations of Sabita's reactions to the present world crisis. 
In This Our Time, especially, is an eloquently delivered poem 
rather reminding the reader of Kipling's Recessional. This one 
poem is enough to show that Sabita is not a mere happy-go- 
lucky cinema star, inhabiting always the ever-delectable hori- 
zons of dreams and phantasies, of moonlit nights and orange 
skies and phosphorescent dawns ; she is also keenly alive to 
the pathos of the human situation to-day, and from 4 the depths 
of her heart she raises this fervent prayer of hope, hope that 
refuses to believe that the darkness and the pain of the moment 
will prevail for ever : 

We lift our eyes unto the hills to Thee 

God of the brave, the true, the free. 


Kamala Dongerkery contributed two poems Too Late and 
Dual Rale to her husband's collection of poems, The Ivory 
Tower. These two poems struck a note of challenging whimsi- 
cality, and! one realized at once that one was in the presence of 
a true poet in the making. Since then Kamala Dongerkery has 
fulfilled our expectations by publishing a series of very satis- 
fying poems which secure for her a place among the front 
rank of Indo- Anglian women poets. Hers is a sensitive and 
tantalizing muse, and in her poems colour and sound fuse 
together and achieve sensuous and melodious rhythms. A 
mere conceit is elaborated with exquisite taste in The Mount- 
ain Bride&~~znA the result is poetry ; a simple idea is worked 
out in terms of simile and metaphor in The Spring of Solace 
and again the result is poetry ; Thoughts, Showers, Mystic or 
Lover and Arati are likewise (poetically krticulate and extend 
life's significances. The last-named poem is, perhaps, her 
finest achievement ; idea and emotion and form cohere in it, 
and we have in result an almost perfect poem : 


I wave before Thy sacred shrine 
Three lambent, quivering lights, 
Enkindled by my soul's dim fire 
' Mid heavy-clouded nights. 

There is the golden flame and there is the pale blue flame and 
there is also the flame of red desire ; but 

My soul will burn with lustre bright 
When all these flames combine. 

The idea, the emotion, and the rhythm return upon themselves 
as, it were, and we have here indubitable poetry. 



TheJatg^F^of^B. N. Saletore (1897-1923) seems to have 
been a gifted Indo-Anglian poet, who died all too soon before 
the rich promise of his early verses could be quite fulfilled. 
A young manTs love for words, a young man's intense idea- 
lisms, a young Indian's pride in his country's cultural past, 
his dissatisfaction with the present, and his hope for the future, 
these are the stuff out of which Saletore's characteristic poems 
are made, ^ youthful poet is generally capable of a pleasing 
versatility ijn. Jteme and tone and technique ; the fact is, he 
is experimenting all the time, trying to discover his special 
bent, his deepest cravings, his unique modes of utterance. Sale- 
tore too is thus experimenting with divers themes, metres, 
moods, modes. 

Nevertheless, Saletore's inspiration is generally and dis- 
tinctly indigenous ; Hindu traditions in thought and feeling, 
Hindu Mythology, Hindu superstitions, these give his poems 
a palpably Oriental richness and equanimity. Here is his poem 
addressed to a Panchama girl : 


Sometimes I fear your gaze 
With soft deep pupils bright : 
As though some unknown Goddess 
O'erpowered my heart with might 
Or G'auri draped in yellow, 
Or Kali clad in night. 

Such a poem is wholly Indian in theme, imagery and cast 
of thought. Saletore wrote also many poems about Nature 
in her varying moods and aspects. Twilight, moonlight, buffa- 
loes, trees, birds and beasts, the sky and the common clay, 
all inspire Saletore's muse. He almost invariably makes his 
Nature poems a blend of description, reverie and even mora- 
lizing, After describing the buffaloes, Saletore asks them a 
whole multitude of questions : 

What visions fraught with gladness charm your sleep ? . . 
What interlunar languor dark as it is deep ? 

Other poems Space-Blue, for instance are finer in concep- 
tion and in the general texture of their expression. 

It is obvious that Saletore had the true poet's vision and 
gift for striking expression ; and he had a contemporary con- 
sciousness and was nevertheless steeped in tradition. Jrlad^he^ 
lived longer and pursued the profession of poetry, there is little^ 
"doubt Saletore would have made a permanent contribution to 
Indo-Anglian poetry. 


The late Prof. Uma Maheswer had several volumes of 
verse to his credit^when he died, under tragic circumstances, 
in March 1942. ] Among the Silences, The Feast of the Crystal 
Heart, Awakened Asia, The Lay of the Lotus and Southern 
Idylls : these five books constituted the work of about a<decade 
of Uma Maheswer's poetic activity. Like Saletore and G. K. 


Chettur, Uma Maheswer also deserves to be included among 
the " inheritors of unfulfilled renown ". 

In Uma Maheswer's two earliest volumes, absolute and 
inveterate melancholy is the prevalent note. The doud lifts 
spasmodically in the later volumes ; at times the poet sees " a 
flickering gleam at least filtering its soothing silver into my 
dazed eyes". He seeks refuge in the awe-inspiring majesty 
and security of Silence and chants the Epic of Silence, " sad 
for all time and stately ". Awakened Asia published over the 
pseudonym " Levant Rose " in 1930 is described as a vision 
a vision of the renascent India to be: 

The golden years return to the radiant East, 
And far and near the plenteous harvests rise, 
And happy homes and brave heroic hearts 
Now fill the land .... 

In hia more recent poems, there is less of melancholy and 
TnonToF'joy the joy that the poet seems to have experienced 
as a result of his intimacy with South Indian scenery. It is 
not unlikely that Uma Maheswer arrived at the threshold of 
Peace the peace he had sought ever so long before his un- 
timely death. 

Although Uma Maheswer was an authentic poet in his 
moods and his musings, in his sentiments and his fancies, 
yet he rarely succeeded in producing good English poems. His 
lyrics are almost as a rule un-rhymed ; and, notwithstanding 
Collinses Ode to Evening and similar miracles, unrhymed 
lyrics, have very little chance of being naturalized in English 
verse. Prose-poetry and verse libre justify themselves under 
special circumstances while unrhymed but otherwise regular 
stanzas somehow do not deliver the goods. This is principally 
the reason why Uma Maheswer's lyrics fail to move, much less 
to rouse, the reader. Besides, his feeling for English sounds 


was never very reliable and his mastery over the technique of 
verse remained incomplete till the end. 

Uma Maheswer was also the author of three verse plays, 
Buddha, Sita in her Sorrows, and Millennial Dawn. In the first, 
Uma Maheswer attempts " to depict the spiritual evolution of 
the Buddha by choosing certain critical situations in his event- 
ful life ". Sita in her Sorrows is a dramatic version of Uttara 
Ramayana, culminating in Mother Earth receiving back her 
daughter into her womb. The third play is described as " a 
Play of International Peace ", with its dramatis personae 
composed of Father Time, Mother Humanity, the Peace Seek- 
ers, Arts and Graces, Red Moloch, etc., etc. 

The themes of Uma Maheswer's plays immediately evoke 
a response from the reader ; but the themes are not imaginative- 
ly enough handled by the dramatist. The great moments 
arrive, but are not recorded in memorable speech. A singular 
flatness is the prevailing note, if " note " it can at all be 
called. No doubt, a theme like the Buddha's spiritual history 
might have defeated the powers of even a Goethe ; hence, 
although we have stated the fact, we do not wish to appear 
uncharitable to the memory of Uma Maheswer. He was an 
unswerving idealist and he dedicated himself to the service 
ot the Muses ; and he will always have a place albeit a minor 
place in Indo-Anglian literature. 


Between 1928 and 1938, Prof. JV. J^.^hushan^published 
seven slim volumes of English verse : Silhouettes, Moon- 
beams, Flute Tunes, Star Fires, Enchantments, Horizons and 
Footfalls. Of late he has adventured into literary criticism and 
produced in quick succession a number of Students' editions of 
English Classics equipped with critical introductions and notes. 


As a poet, Bhushan's work is tantalizingly unequal. Poetic 
experiences crowd around him and he is possessed of a fount 
of poetic energy. And yet the finished poems that he gives 
us are few and far between. He has, generally speaking, a 
feeling for the sound values of words ; but he lacks reticence 
and sometimes allows adjectives and alliterations to do duty 
for poetry. He has not he does not seem to have quite 
realized that poetry is not the experience merely, but the experi- 
ence reduced to form and significance ; not ideas, but the pleasur- 
able communication of ideas, constitutes poetry. A good poem 
should give us, not merely the raw-stuff of an experience, 
but a feeling of exhilaration and fulfilment. As Mr. Charles 
Williams has pointed out, the poets give us "the sensuous 
apprehension of our satisfied capacities for some experience or 
other ". 

The trouble with Bhushan is that he will not take pains 
fully to master his medium. As a result, many of his poems 
refuse to cohere into harmonious pictures. Often, when he 
writes unrhymed verse, we have the uncomfortable feeling that 
he avoids rhyme more because of laziness than because of any 
artistic necessity. 

In his very first book, Silhouettes, Bhushan is more suc- 
cessful in the rhythmic prose of A Bouquet than in regular 
verses. His later yplumes have given us a few very good poems 
and a large number of poetic lines. The Pilgrim, one of 
Bhushan's earlier pieces, has both form and felicity of expres- 
sion : 

Onward, Eternal Pilgrim, Onward ! 

Through sunless days and starless nights 

Across the arch of years 

And over the bridge of life 

In pursuit of the Purple Light 

Routine is equally good, although it is difficult to understand 


why this poem should be more or less artificially cut up into 
thirty-three lines. 

Some of Bhushan's single lines are compact of beauty 
and hence one loves to repeat aloud lines like: 

Orphan clouds in lunar synthesis . . . 

The hush and swell of the Camel-bells of quest . . . 

A wonder sense of sweet womanliness . . . 

Thro* sweeping savannahs and whistling wilds . . . 

A chandelier on the lilied altar . . . 

It is therefore satisfactory to note that Bhushan's lyrics have 
been on the whole well received in India as also in England. 
Mr. V. de Sola Pinto rightly declares that "Mr. Bhushan 
is a lyrical poet with real vision and originality and gives 
English poetic forms a new charm and freshness by adapting 
them to the expression of Indian imagination and mystical 
thought". And an Indian critic has no business to be more 
queasy about English verse than are English critics them- 
selves ! 


Prof. Humayun Kabir, nationalist and Professor at 
the Calcutta University, belongs to the ever growing band of 
Bengalis to whom poetry is but second nature, as necessary 
as water and air. A Bengali Muslim, Humayun Kabir spent 
his formative years, as did Manmohan and Chettur also, at 
Oxford. Since his return to India, Kabir has been "profes- 
sing" Philosophy, first at the Andhra University and now at 

Humayun Kabir's first volume of poems (Poems, 1932) 
consisted mostly of English renderings, either in prose or in 
"halting verse", of his own Bengali poems. Kabir disarm- 


ingly confesses that some of his poems " bear only too clearly 
the marks of early adolescence"; but there is nowhere any palp- 
able exaggeration. Nor does any desperate straining after effect 
mar the unity of any of his poems. 

Kabir as a poet may not be divinely inspired, but he 
is at any rate sincere and his emotional earnestness is no pose 
The following picture of " Frustration " is built up with care ; 
detail is added to detail till the finished picture emerges at 
last : 

My heart is heavy with pain, 

And the world is empty for lack of you . 

The rain-soaked wind is charged with restlessness. 

And the murmurs of the trees are full of moans. 

Shadows deepen on the sunless sky. 

Magic tears glimmer in my heart. 

While Kabir's energy of utterance is quite equal to picturing 
" Frustration " or evoking a " Spectre ", his muse is undoubted- 
ly more at home in the presence of Beauty. The Taj Mahal 
moves him (as it has moved most Indo- Anglian poets of yester- 
day and to-day) to write a fine poem ; Birth of Venus, again, 
attempts! to describe the eternal feminine ; the loving parti- 
culars in the poem enrich the picture without in the least 
vulgarizing it. 

The versatility for which youth is to be specially cherished 
is generously evident in Kabir's poems. Wonder, rapture, 
melancholy, despair, doubt, ecstasy, all visit Kabir's universe, 
either by turns or in groups ; and he faithfully reflects the 
changing moods in the body of his poetry. At one moment 
Kabir writes, with the self-consciousness of adolescence, a poem 
entitled Doubts, as the result of a recoil from Pain and 

Upon this heaped-up evil we yet want to base 

The heaven of our dreams. Though weary night and 


Its hope sustains our dreams. 

But six months later Kabir the same Kabir writes these 
felicitous lines, charged with an almost mystical ecstasy : 

You looked at me with your dark mysterious eyes 

In whose depths I gazed in amazement mute 

And saw spaces beyond, regions unexplored 

And glimmering worlds, unfamiliar, strange .... 

For a moment I felt I was at one 

With deep passion's impersonal elemental air 

In a million hearts throughout the world. 

The moment passes, felicity fades away ; but it is something 
surely to have caught a glimpse of itif only for a second - 
and passed on the revelation to others. 

Prof. Baldoon Dhingra of Lahore won the Clark Essay 
Prize while hlTwas at Cambridge with his essay on "Genius 
and Artistic Enjoyment"; he has published besides five 
pamphlets of English verse, viz. Beauty's Sanctuary, Voiceless 
Lyrics, Symphony of Peace, Mountains and Comes Ever the 
Dawn, and, very recently, a collection of eight philosophical 
essays with the title, Writ in Sand. 

One of Dhingra's earliest books of verse elicited from the 
Times Literary Supplement this eulogy : " These verses are the 
work of a spirit as sensitive to the moods and moments of 
Nature as to the thoughts that rise to the surface of the pool 
of meditation ". Dhingra has mastered his medium better than 
many I ndo- Anglian" practitioner^ have done, and hence some 
of his poems achieve the fusion of grace, form and fejidty 
"of expression. Here is the concluding stanza of that fine poem, 

Factories are Eyesores : 

Now are they eyesores, as you ?ay, 

At noontide, with those smoking tops : 


Man works beneath, until he drops 
Out of the world of wheels one day, 
Factories are eyesores as you say. 

The Hawk is galvanized by an idea that the lark's song 
triumphs over death itself : 

From his soared heaven of light, with heart elate, 

He cries God's challenge to the winds of fate, 

While from blue heaven, and life's unconquered song 
Death learns, for all the bitter doom he bears. 

He is not quite so strong. 

In his more recent poems, Dhingra is something of a 
prophet without ceasing to be a poet. Mountains contains a 
symbolic summary of human history up-to-date, together with 
a plan for the future. There were giants mountains, if you 
will in the past ; but " in the pride of heart " they scorned 
"the- ampler purpose of the whole": 

So Earth's first children failed ; and not till man 

crowned Life with Knowledge was there found 

a soul to pierce 

the cloud-wrack of the universe 

with the white peak of Immortality. 

Nor need this be necessarily an idle dream ; for, " we have 

a share in something beyond our thought and, after the 

stars go out, comes ever the Dawn ". 


Yet another professor who is also a poet isJMrJ^C 
Datta, Head of the English Department at the Maharaja's 
College, Jaipur. He seems to have been writing English verse 
for a long time, but it was only in 1941 that he released for 
publication his English verses and verse translations. Christ- 
mas 1935 and Other Verses, Exegi Monumentum and Lyrics, 
Chandidas : Translations, Vidyapati : Renderings, and Megha- 


duto in English Verse have appeared in quick succession during 
the past four years. 

Whether as a translator or jas an original poet, PrpiMDatta 
displays a commendable mastery of English verse Jforms. He 
Is apparently intimate with many languages and he has thus 
developed a healthy cosmopolitanism in outlook and utterance. 
He is specially valuable as a reliable interpreter of Chandidas 
and Vidyapati through the medium of limpid English verse. 

In his original verses, Datta displays considerable fluency 
and ^metrical ingenuity ; but he rarely rises to sheer lyrical 
heights. Exegl M'onumentum is a long elegiac poem, written 
lirTmemory of Datta's father " a remarkable Indian father . . . 
a pioneer in the English lyric forms, just as Horace was a 
pioneer in the skilful use of Greek forms". Datta handles 
the " Arnoldean metre " with dexterity and ease. The poem, 
however, is too long and the emotion tends to flag over long 
stretches of reminiscence and apostrophe. 

The shorter poems, written almost as a rule in tripping 
four-line stanzas, show Datta's versification to better advan- 
tage. Now and then, he gives us a piece that is satisfying both 
as verse and as poetry. Sundered is a fine little poem : 

It was a leave-taking so strange, 

I remember it so well, 
With breaking heart she came to me, 

And at my feet she fell. 

And so on, three more stanzas ; likewise, The Lover's Ghost 
and What Angel Gave you Birth are among the striking poems 
in Datta's collections of verse. 

Some of Datta's verses Mr. Dandy and Miss Andy and 
Mr. HidebouwTs Address to His Comrades, for instance are 
in a rollickingly humorous vein. The four-line stanza is an 
obedient instrument in JDatta's hands and he deftly 
TcT many an interesting and purposive use ! 



The late Prof. T.JB. Krishnaswami was an indefatigable 
writer of prose and verse ; lie wrote essays, stories, children's 
books, poems, biographical sketches. His Swallow-Flights 
('1933) a collection of essays in prose and verse " in a light 
vein and of brief compass " contains some of his best woik, 
in prose as well as in verse. At his very best, Krishnaswami's 
prose can rise to great heights, recalling the triumphs of the 
seventeenth and the early nineteenth century masters of impas- 
sioned prose ; but the feat is but rarely achieved and even then 
only by fits and starts. 

As a writer of poetry, Krishnaswami's touch is uncertain, 
although one comes across a really delightful poem now and 
then. Aspirations is a trifle but it has form, meaning, move- 
ment and colour : 

I caught a star and kissed it. Lo ! 

Its scorching flame did scorch my lips 
And singe my hair. It did ; but oh, 
What ecstasy ! For while time slips, 
, Its joy ineffable shall be 

A reminder of Eternity ! 

But such marriage of sound and sense is rather rare, espe- 
cially in the pieces that fulsomely commemorate living or 
dead notabilities like Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Raja of Ramnad, 
L. D. Swamikannu and Dr. T. M. Nair. In other poems, 
promising openings are marred by a failure of the poetic fire. 
fShanti begins well : 

A sea-shell on the sandy beach 

High and dry beyond the reach . 

Of restless waves that toss and*swa\ 

Churn the foam and scatter spray. 

But the conclusion, rhyme and alliteration alike, sounds blatant- 
ly crude and totally out of tune with the rest of the poem : 

THE " NEW " POETS 137 

Lustrous, lovely life, can be 

Filled with peace, with shanti, shanti. 

While thus Krishnaswami almost invariably fails to make 
poetic wholes of any considerable length, he does throw out, 
off and on, poetic fragments that acquire at times the brevity 
and crystalline clarity of a Haiku. I 



Mr. Shahid Suhrawardy is a cosmopolitan poet, a " new '* 
poet, and truly a poet. He is a member of the distinguished 
Suhrawardy family who have made their mark in the public 
life of Bengal. A brilliant Oxonian, Suhrawardy has knocked 
about the world a good deal ; he has taught English and 
produced plays in Moscow ; he is a remarkable linguist and 
connoisseur of Art. When he returned to India a few years 
ago after an absence of about two decades, he was appointed 
the Bageshwari Professor of Foreign Art in the Calcutta Uni- 
versity. His collection of critical essays, Prefaces : Essays on 
Art Subjects, has won the admiration of people who count. 
Since then he has left the University and is at present a member 
of the Bengal Public Services Commission. 

Suhrawardy has also published a collection of his English 
lyrics with the rather unusual title, Essays in Verse, the term 
" essay " being used in the French sense. In a letter to his 
friend, Dilip Kumar Roy, he thus modestly explains the genesis. 
of his poems : " The source of many of them is my literary 
culture and not a deep spiritual experience ; perhaps, some- 
times ... a wistfulness ... a half -opened hope ... a visual 
enchantment . . . but nothing more." Be that as it may, the 


iorty poems included in Essays in Verse constitute no mean 
achievement and it is a pleasure although the pleasure is some- 
times tinged with melancholy to read them half-aloud to one- 
self, to come under the spell of their seductive rhythms, to 
exchange pulse-beats with their sophisticated and sensitive 


Essays in Verse is a collection of " early " as well as 
" new " poems, thus embracing the work of over twenty years. 
It may also be presumed that several other poems of Suhra- 
wardy's, read and admired by a select band of discriminating 
friends, yet remain unpublished. Among the "new" poems 
is the sequence, An Old Man's Songs, distinctly Prufrockian in 
manner and even in rhythm ; but the poems grip the reader 
at once and they contain several lines luxuriating with fancy 
and glowing with colour. The "Old Man" can merely reca- 
pitulate the past, with regret and with a reminiscent spasm 
of pain or with a deceptive, reviving tenderness. " Out of 
the wreckage of his years " he can only place " memories " 
at the feet of Youth and Love ; passion and love and hope 
are no more, only memories remain ! Presently the Old Man 
bristles with conceits and unexpected images : 

Beware, my love, beware, 

Lest in your riotous hair 

There might not be a dream of mine that sighs 

Though you don't note the hunger in my eyes . . . 

Bowed down I pick the litter of your charms : 

Alms of a word, 

Blessings of a glance, 

Gestures thrown out with squandering ease. 

The riverine cadence of your laughter, Friend, 

Might mean an old man's end ... 

THE " NEW " POETS 139 

Certainly, we grow old ; and Old Father William cannot 
at any rate, Father William should not do the things that 
self-confident full-blooded twenty-two can do with impunity. 
Why not, then, accept the inevitable ? Why not, indeed, make 
a virtue of what appears to be thus unescapable? But it is 
no use asking these questions ; men are fated to break their 
heads vainly against the rock of Time ; they must being men 
deplore the mortality of youth and its wonderful privileges. 
Suhrawardy too cannot accept the fact of age without casting 
lingering and even shivering looks behind ; and Suhrawardy 
is a poet, although, as Sri Aurobindo points out, " his success 
is less than his capacity ". 

At Tennis may be described as an appendix or epilogue 
to the "-Old Man's" songs it is the lasf In the senesT Our 
Prufrock has realized that the " love which had no begin- 
ing " has reached its end at last ; there is a tom-tom in his 
brain and he is shaken to his depths ; he makes one desperate 
attempt more to bridge the gaping and taunting abyss : 

I stretch torn hands to reach your piteous hands ; 
I seek through tattered space your ample eyes. 

But $he recks not ; she has her round of pleasures, her excite- 
ments, her gallants, her odol and her powders, and her 

Lips painted to the crimson of a wound 
After sentimental flutters. 

Our Prufrock is apparently but the most recent of this lady's 
victims, and neither the first nor the last ! 

Suhrawardy's "new" poetry is in a sense also decadent, 
poetry ; but, after all, a decadent civilization can only be 
mirrored by such poetry. Prufrock is no figment of Mr. Eliot's 
brain nor is the Old Man an idle creature of Suhrawardy's 
fancy ; rather are they, like Meredith's Willoughby, " all of 
us", in greater or lesser measure. And Suhrawardy's recent 


poems do effectively reproduce the pathetic moan, the raging 
fever and the uncertain palpitations of the ageing man who 
knows at last that he can no more take part in the riot of 
inconsequent youth. 

In the long poem, The Indian Tragedy, Suhrawardy 
Cleverly imitates Eliot's rhythms, his clowning, his multi-lingual 
experiments, his linked allusiveness ; poetry rubs shoulders with 
bathos ; English and French alternate ; and, indeed, the poet 
openly, if also facetiously, announces his affiliation to the 
modernists . 

With hands thrust deep in my abysmal pockets 
And watch the dwindling eyesight sink in madden'd 


As you would say 
From inch to inch. 
(You never had a sense of metaphor, 
Not having sat at Eliot's feet 
Nor having clasped the hand of Edith Sitwell, 
Nor ever walked the bent aesthetic street 
That leads to all the keenness of Hell.) 

It is the .moaning of^the Old Man still, moaning his frustra- 
tions and his hurts and his shadowy failures. Although The 
Indian Tragedy is obscure here and there, it does succeed in 
vivifying the Old Man's mood of disillusion and cynicism. The 
Old Man 

The restless bent Old Man 
(Tortured speck in the brain) 
Aimlessly trudging the mountain glades, ' 
Paradoxical and vain - 

is a prey to pythonish thoughts ; he cannot live, he can only 
think ; he must move among the dead rats and mutter high- 
sounding architectural cliches ; but at fitful intervals he also 
breaks into " beautiful poetry, although the poetry is almost 
immediately smothered by a spurt of clowning. The Indian 

THE " NEW " POETS 141 

Tragedy is an impression, not a sermon ; and while it contains 
some very good lines and is an artistic portrayal of present-day 
vulgarity and sham, it is not a pleasant poem to read. 


Suhrawardy's minor poems, on the other hand, achieve 
by the very strength of their reticence a strange and unforget- 
table beauty. You will not Miss Me, for instance, is austere 
in its simplicity and yet the cumulative effect of the familiar 
monosyllables and seemingly commonplace images is all but 
overwhelming ; 

v You will not 'miss me 
When I am dead, 
Like a careless flower 
Dropped from your head. 

But some stormy day 
By some firelight hour, 
I'll stir in your soul 
Like an opening flower. 

You will smile and think, 
And let fall your book, 
And bend o'er the fire 
With a far-off look. 

Its quiet pathos has almost the ring of a Wordsworthian Lucy 
poem (or is the languor and the pathos really Yeatsian?) ; 
and You will not Miss Me is one of Suhrawardy's "early" 
poems ! 

Hardly less successful are other " early '\ poems like In 
Russia, Hold out My Heart and Chinoiserie ; Oxford Pasticcio 
is a longer poem, the lines themselves are meandering, and 
the poem suggestively evokes something of the strange enchant- 
ment of Oxford ; it is gay and sad, serious and frivolous at 


once ; it anyhow movingly and temperamentally describes an 
interesting mood. 

The "new" poems are both "new" in their rhythms 
and poetry in their excellent articulation. The Asoka Tree, 
Poems from the China Sea, I sat at Your Hearth, Prayer, and 
Moon in the Sky are some of the beautiful pieces that Suhra- 
wardy has given us. The " new " note disturbs us, no doubt, 
now and then, as, for instance, in the shattering anti-climax 
in To my Dog. In Prayer, however, Suhrawardy succeeds in 
painting a piercingly vivid picture of the. desolation that en- 
compasses the lover who has loved and lost : 

O Lord, shower thy grace 

On him who in travail and in pain 

Bends low his pale sorrow-painted face 

On the image of her, with wistful memory 

Of the last-drunk bitter bowl 

Of her caresses* treachery 

O Lord, have mercy on his soul. 

It must be added, in conclusion, that Suhrawardy himself 
does not attach much importance to his poems : " The more 
I live the more I am convinced in my inner being that .words 
are merely used in order to suggest a great and deep reticence. 
So that all the foolish adjectives of some of my poems appear 
to me to be sins that screech to my quietness like parrots". 
These remarks do honour to Mr. Suhrawardy's humility and 
his wisdom, but by no means take away from his best poems 
their marble smoothness, strength and beauty. 


Mr. ^fanJerijS. Isvaran had the misfortune to have his 
first book of poems, Saffron and Gold (1932), reviewed with 
unnecessary acerbity and an almost total lack of sympathy by 
the Hindu Literary Supplement of Madras. Other reviews of 

THE " NEW " POETS 143, 

the book were more judicious and more complimentary, but 
the Hindu reviewit had been the first and the longest rankled 
still ; Isvaran had every reason to feel hurt, to become even 
a victim of melancholy. When a poet publishes his poems, 
his poems (to quote Prof. Menezes) in their turn publish him. 
Writing poetry is telling secrets, it is almost opening a wound ; 
and the reader (and especially the reviewer and the critic), 
on his part, should respect the revelation, he should touch the 
wound, if he must, only with love. 

And what was the head and front of Isvarart's crime? 
He, an Indian an Indian who had not visited England had 
dared to publish a volume of English verse. If a book of 
Indo-Anglian verse is flat, or immature, or even downright 
bad, we have a right to say so ; but we can say so without 
assuming a lofty air and indulging in Jeffreyan diatribes and 
attitudinizations. If we can study English, teach it and 
" profess " it for twelve hours a week, and examine candidates 
on their " proficiency " in English Language and Literature ; 
if we can write personal letters in English, annotate 
English Classics, and deliver Extension Lectures in English ; 
if we can even write plays and novels and biographies in 
English ; if we can do all these things without a qualm of 
conscience, one fails to understand why we should frown only 
upon the Indo-Anglian poets. As Sri Aurobindo has well 
pointed out, "these mental barriers will begin to disappear" 
as people become (as they are fast becoming) more and more 

If Indo-Anglian poets write badly (so do the vast majo- 
rity of contemporary English and American versifiers also), 
let us by all means say so ; but let us not associate Indo-Anglian 
poetry with a sort of " original sin ". The Indo-Anglian poets 
have as much right to live and to be heard as have other 
species of Indo-Anglians, be they novelists, journalists, review- 


,ers, or professors. It may be added in passing that most of the 
reviewers and critics in England and America are as a rule 
more generous in their understanding and more fulsome in 
their appreciation of the work of the Indo-Anglians than are 
many of our own super-paragons and pontiffs. 


If the review above referred to had been intended to shock 
Mr. Isvaran into silence, it did not succeed in the least, for 
he has since given us some more books of verse, Altar of 
Flowers, Catguts, Brief Orisons. He is, besides, the author 
of a critical study of Mr. K. S. Venkataramani as Writer and 
Thinker and of a book of short stories, Naked Shingles. He 
also edited for about a year an excellent monthly magazine, 
The" Short Story. 

While it is clear that the Hindu review could not hush 
up Mr. Isvaran, it nevertheless did leave scars, and we find 
him returning to his grievance again and again. This is to 
be regretted, although this has given us one or two passages 
where very resentment acquires the touch of poetry. And even 
apart from this ineradicable tendency to counter-attack, Jsvar- 
an's recent poems are the products of melancholy, frustration t 
and bitterness. We do not Tiear now such strains as these, 
all of which are from the earliest volume : 

Once on. a night 

My s$t*took flight 

From out the dark prison of bony bars, 
Spirall'd heavenward and stray'd amid the stars 

The sea is calm, the shingl'd shore is lash'd 
By wavelets tipp'd with phosphorescent foam 

Crimson hibiscus and rose 

And jessamine white as the snows .... 

THE " NEW " POETS 145 

e, Beloved, come, and sit by the side of me 
Here where the sands are soft and slope toward the sea, 
A warm west wind wakes wimpling wavelets on the 

strand . . . 

In his more recent poems, Isvaran's touch is surer and 
his metrical mastery is more unfailing ; he attempts vers libre 
with striking success ; and he is modernist without being un- 
intelligible or merely violent. He achieves sometimes the bre- 
vity and suggestiveness of the best Imagist poetry, as for 
instance in: 

Where the lucent skyline 

Fringes the sea, 

Expanding sapphirine 


A cloud, gossamered gold, 

Glimmers awhile 

Dreamwise do I behold 

The Mermaid Isle ? 

In A Ltfe's Love, the emotional history of a lover is narrated 
in a sequence of six lyrics in which the very rhythms and 
imagery are attuned to the vicissitudes in the lover's life. Like- 
wise, many other lyrics Faith, Courage, Dewdrop, Teardrop, 
Taj Mahal, for example surprise and satisfy the responsive 
reader by their clarity of vision, their mastery of phrase and 
their general artistry. 

In Catguts and Brief Orisons, however, another Isvaran 
also speaks out his thoughts a satirical, ironical, Prufrock- 
like Isvatem, who is both clown and seer, poet and ventrilo- 
quist. This Isvaran knows his Eliot and his Auden and his 
Ezra Pound, and no wonder he gives us lines. like the follow- 

Let us not tarry, you and I, 

to touch and kindle feelings where they are dead ; 



where men and women measure their years in yawns, 
clofthed in cobwebs of boredom spun' of their bloated 

flesh and sins, 

carrying dead races, dead nations, dead worlds, 
and the carcasses of dead constellations in their 
breasts .... 

Wife ! why this desperate struggle to keep up a synthe- 
tic youth, 

having past the milestone of mellow menopause ? 

Dye for the graying hair and dentures for the mouth, 

and braces and buckles to bolster up the pendulous 
breasts ? 

Reflections of a Septuagenarian, Asteiisked, The New Woman, 
The Complete Bachelor, Afiffipiece and Frustration are some 
other effective pieces in the new style. On Sale is an indeco- 
rous tragedy in seven lines, told with merciless brevity and 
brutality ; Superatom has the Aldous Huxley touch, the Huxley 
of Leda; and there are several other poems that are written 
in a similar satirical vein. 

Although all these poems make interesting reading, al- 
though theyall both amuse and wound, and although perhaps 
in his present mood Isvaran cannot help letting him- 
self go in this fashion, the present writer nevertheless feels 
more at home in the poems cast in the traditional moulds ; he 
feels that Isvaran's very resentments and reserves of strength 
can be given nobler utterance and revealed more fittingly in 
traditional rhythms like these : 

O Friends of fair weather, 

When loomed distress, 

You .left me to die : death I smiled away 

Fm proud in my loneliness. 

O World, you tried to freeze 
Me with chill woe, 


But there was warmth in my heart : e'er will be ; 
I'm majestic in my sorrow. 

Invisible Great ! 

1 bow to Thee, 

Blasphemers mock : ay, they have mocked always ; 
I'm high in my humility. 


Mr. P. R. Kaikini is another of the "new" poets who 
has evoIveU"*M^ff^ance of his own, at once very sensitive 
to the many evils in our midst and outspoken in condemnation 
of them. Free verse as is practised by poets like Isvaran and 
Kaikini, at any rate in their best efforts, has in a measure 
justified itself. As Prof. E. E. Speight remarks : " It is con- 
sonant with the subtle braininess of so many sections of the 
Indian intelligentsia that this new poetry should find able 
exponents in India, for it gives greater scope to individuality 
without demanding any approach to traditional English tech- 
nique The compensation for an Indian poet's inability 

to attain to genuine poetic melody in a foreign medium is this 
freedom which allows the individual rhythm, controlled by 
foreign words, to interpret experience". 

Indeed, for the Indo-Anglian, who has neither the inclina- 
tion nor the opportunity to gain an intimate knowledge of 
English sound values and verse forms, there are only two 
courses open either to write prose-poems or to resort to vers 
libre. jKaikini's first two books, Flower Offerings and Songs 
of <a Wanderer, consisted of prose-poems in the Gitanjali manner 

1m31ome attained a liigh degree of emotional tension and verbal 
suppleness. The type can be best illustrated by these two 

""pieces : 

They took me to a place bright with morning night. 
But I found it dark like empty dreams, without you. 


They took me to an unlit cave in the heart of a wild 
forest. I found it flooded with light from the quenchless 
flame of your being.. 

Yesterday, when my young heart went to bed, it was 
full of joy, life, love and hope. 

But this morning, when I awoke from strange dreams, 
I found my heart was bound up with the restless shadows 
of a struggle within and the vaster darkness of a strife 
without, blinded in a storm of blood and water. 

Presently, the mood changes, and with the mood the 
medium as well ; henceforth would Kaikini sing of " blood and 
war", not of "joy and dynamic life"; and he would wield 
the rough-hewn instrument of vers libre, not the lolling and 
lounging rhythms of prose-poetry. We have accordingly these 
four volumes : This Civilization, Shanghai, The Recruit, and 
The Snake in the Moon. 

Kaikinfs recent poems no doubt reflect a mind sensitive 
to the many tremors and quakes and marsh vapours in the 
contemporary world. In Mr. Michael Roberts's words, this 
poetry "looks out at the world of science, politics, and every- 
day affairs, and it expresses a passionate sense of right and 
wrong ". Kiaikini's themes are no more the felicities of Nature, 
the languorous thrills of romantic love, or the dreamy fervour 
of religious ecstasy. His muse dwells rather on the Quetta 
Earthquake of 1935, the sobs and groans of the Shanghai of 
1937, the war that "tore open the cloudy September skies" 
in 1939, and the dismal human predicament of 1942. Even a 
subject like " Evening " is treated with downright realism : 

Round the bend a young maid powders her face as she 

At the end of the street four bluff men, push an old 

worn-out Ford. 


This mood of disenchantment and disillusion is also pithily 
expressed in the last lines of Decline and Fall : 

Time was when wonder shone supreme in our eyes . . . 
But alas ! to-day shattered and broken we fall. 

In his recent poem, Snake in the Moon (1942), Kaikini 
attempts an elaborate picture of present-day disintegration and 
chaos, exploiting with a measure of success several of Mr. 
Eliot's artifices. Kaikini vivifies Hell the Hell of the war- 
ridden world : 


Rivers of blood clotting and germ-infested 

germ-infested and clotting clotting 
Rivers and rivers of blood blood 

warm beating human blood rotting rotting. 

Kaikirtfs cup of disillusion is full to the brim, and he begins 
and concludes his Snake in the Moon with the lines : 

This the existence I would cherish 

To be happy like the unthinking rainbow 

Or a greedy crow on the wing for scraps of alien garbage 

The self-effacement of chiaroscuro. 


Mr. Krishan Shungloo's the Night is heavy was published 
in March 1943. The transition from Kaikini's Snake in the 
Moon to Shungloo's the Night is heavy is very apt and sug- 
gestive. Shungloo too is a modernist more of a modernist, 
in 1 fact, that is either Kaikini or Isvaran or Suhrawardy. The 
prefatory note tells usi that the thirty-nine poems in the Night 
is heavy were all written when the author was a student at 
Oxford. The "irregular pace of the verse " has been delibe- 
rately chosen since it is "best suited to the violence of our 
times and the interpretation of my moods ". The poems are, 


further, " essentially subjective. They tell of my struggle with 
life and its realities, and as such they wholly belong to me." 

These thirty-nine poems are numbered carefully, but are 
not named ; they do entirely without capital letters and punc- 
tuation marks ; and, of course, they are written in unrhymed 
irregular verse. But one soon gets accustomed to these external 
peculiarities ; one is able to read the poems as poems, and 
one then realizes that Shungloo is a poet a poet who is pro- 
foundly disturbed all the time about something or other. 
Sbungloo is indeed like an unhappy man who has lost his 
soul and is desperately eager to get it back but cannot. It 
is a bad mad mood, it is a self-destroying mood but it is also 
a mood that can give rise to some poignant poetry : 

in courting life 

i have wedded despair . 

i too have rotted in flesh and spirit 
crucified my love on a harlot's bed 
crossed the seas athirst for knowledge 
of the written word to steer my ship 
and dreamt the moneyed equation 
and on waking kissed the hour-glass 
and gazed at the crystal . 

we are the god's jest 

the cryptic joke 

we doubt and have no answer. 

Shungloo's muse drapes herself even thus with -seven-fold 
melancholy ; civilization is a curse, the war is a crime, and 
we men are the " god's jest "; there is no hope, none, for us 

fraulen i mean 

men and women wearing the mask of life 
the dead souls of our civilization 





^i Mahomed _Iqbal^was not an Indo- Anglian poet, but his 
outstanding contributions to Urdu and Persian poetry made 
him one of the major formative influences on modern Indian 
poetry. He was a professor, a patriot, a publicist, a satirist, 
and a philosopher. ^ Some of his patriotic poems have become 
a part of the national heritage and are sung from one. end of 
the country to another. ^ 

JMany of Sir Mahomed's poems have been rendered into 
JEngljsh by^Brpf. R. A. Nicholson and some by Sir Zalfiqar 
Ali Khan ; and even in their English dress they retain much 
of their concentrated fury of expression and sustained elo- 
quence. He was truly " the Voice of the poet of To-morrow " 
and his prophetic strains have moved many a younger Indian 
poet to courageous self-expression. 

Sir Mahomed believed in the future of his country and 
he believed too in the future of the world : 

Silence the noise of the nations, 
Imparadise our ears with thy music, 
Arise and tune the harp of brotherhood, 
Give us back the cup of the wine of love. 

This abiding faith in the future of India and of the world 
has been a source of positive inspiration to many a younger 
poet, both Hindu and Muslim. 


Among Muslim writers of English, of English verse espe- 
cially, particular mention must be made of Nawab Sir Niza- 
mat Jung Bahadur. Born in 1871, educated in India and at 


Cambridge, Sir Nizamat has occupied very important positions 
in the Hyderabad state. 

His Casual Reflections and Morning Thoughts use the 
medium of English prose, at times prose of a singular force 
and suggestiveness, for the communication of his inmost 
thoughts on the many problems, big and small, that confront 
men and women to-day. These prose pieces nlay almost be 
called miniature essays, in the course of which Sir Nizamat 
is caught unawares murmuring to himself, in the words of the 
old song, " says I to myself, say I ". 

Sir Nizamat's verses and sonnets have been collected and 
published with the titles, Sonnets and Other Poems, Love's 
Withered Leaves, and Islamic Poems. In the earlier volumes 
we come across a number of love poems and Nature descrip- 
tions/the following extracts being fair samples of these : 

When I approach thee, love, I lay aside 
All that is mortal in me. With a heart 
Absolved and pure, and cleansed in every part 
Of every thought that I might wish to hide 
From God, I come 

A gleam of light sailed o'er the water's breast 
From out the fading distance towards the shore 
Crowning with gold each swelling wave that bore 
This gloom of shadows deepening in the West. 
Now here, now there, from shivered crest to crest, 
It leaped, it flew and then was seen no more. , 

Even in his " Islamic " poems Sir Nizamat reveals a simi- 
lar poetic sensibility and ease in versification. The poems, 
however, are not " Islamic " in the narrow religious or theolo- 
gical sense. Poetry must be inspired somehow, and it happens 
that several of Sir Nizamat's poems are inspired by Islanu 
its sacred places, its Great Calliphs, its spiritual Empire. It 


is not necessary to be a Muslim to be able to appreciate the 
thought or language of these lines : 

Not in those realms where rivers flow, 

Of milk and honeyed wine, 

Or where with mystic light aglow, 

The eyes of Houris shine ; 

Not there, O soaring spirit ! lies 

Thy home of bliss, thy paradise. 

Sir Nizamat has been described by his friend, Mr. A. 
Yusuf Ali, as a man "who finds peace in Poetry, wealth 
in the stores of History and Imagination, consolation in the 
message of religion and serene beauty in the personality and 
mysticism of the Preacher of Islam'". As the recordation in 
verse of such a worthy gentleman's musings and prayerful 
meditations, Islamic Poems and its two predecessors deserve 
to be read with attention and respect. 


We have no space to discuss in detail a number of other 
Indo-Anglian poets ; we have, therefore, to content ourselves 
with merely mentioning some of them by name. ^ 

JPrincipal V, _Saranathan qjf Trichinopoly published over 
twenty-five years ago a slim book of verse, First Sheaves, con- 
taining an interesting playlet on Indrajit More recently Sara- 
nathan has published a series of political sonnets, inspired by 
subjects like Neville Chamberlain, Czechoslovakia, the Nazi 
persecution of the Jews, and the Civil War in Spain. His verses 
neither transfigure thought into poetry nor transport the reader 
to a delectable realm of their own ; but some of these latter- 
day sonnets are sufficiently thought-controlled and expressed 
forcibly enough to merit the name of poetry J\*(JI* 44 f TO V 
Mr. B^Vasudeva^ Rao is the author of O/ Here and Here- 
after, and other Poemz He is a serious poet discoursing with 


due solemnity on either the problem of evil or the rhythm 
of life or the " Mysterious Alphabet " of Life or the Ladder 
of Knowledge or the ethical implications of the fall of Napoleon 
Bonaparte ; other poems are dedicated to the memory of a 
Shelley, a Wordsworth, a Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a Chat- 
terton or the poet's own grandmother. Vasudeo Rao's is too 
earnest a muse to move the reader or even to entertain him. 
His ideas are proper enough and right enough only they very 
rarely glow with the incandescence of poetry. 

Mr. Jehangi Jivanji Vakil is a genuine poet who feels 
acutely and sings memorably ; some of his songs have the 
fragility, fragrance and lucid outline of the best haikus and 
tankas as, for instance, in this miniature poem : 

/O long black hair of love, 
In your dark shades a dove, 
My heart circles in rings, 

Beating white wings. 

Revelation, Transience and Flame of Beauty are other poems 
in Vakil's most characteristic style. 

^Another Parsi poet,JByram Talookdar^ has given us a 
book of twenty-six lyrics entitled, Pimissimo ; the poems arc 
an incredible compound of W. H. Davies, A. E. Housman, 
and Edmund Blunden. The themes are the primary human 
emotions and Naturei's inexhaustible fascinations ; but Talook- 
dar handles these traditional themes in his own way and the 
result is often sheer delight. 

Mr. M. Gilbert's Lyrics <md Sonnets is an immature work. 
His emotional attitudes display \ a considerable variety and he 
is apparently willing to take pains. But as yet his rhymes are 
uncertain and his rhythms are lacking in suppleness. His 
longer poems deserve our commendation for their conception 
rather than for their execution. But he shows himself now and 


then fully equal to the restraint and dignity of the sonnet form 
and he is sure to do well as a poet in the future. 

is a leading man of letters in Kanhada 

and is often described as the father of modern Kannada drama. 
His English poems are also very distinctive. Kmkeyee is a 
convincing ^ineation of the "hapless queen" and "ill-fated 
child of fame 1 ". The Lake is a "Ballad for Bairns" and 
achieves a breezy articulation from the first stanza to the last. 
Kailasam is undoubtedly an audacious and original litterateur, 
but somehow he has so far failed to rise to the full height of 
his great possibilities. 

Mr. Susi 'P. Davijfe collection of sonnets, The Garland, 
is a meritorious book. The sonnets are generally suffused with 
the author's unshaken faith in God. Love, Patriotism, Nature, 
all are seen with the chastening eye of Faith and rendered 
in quiet, insinuating, serene notes. Susi David's fifty sonnets 
are no mean achievement for one who is handling a foreign 
language. ' 

^Mr^R^V..,Sbah of Ahmedabad, in his Pourings of a Strug- 
gling (Sow/, has brought together eighty of his prose-poems deal- 
ing with the "first and last" questions that Man for ever 
wrestles with. Mr. Shah is quite obviously a deeply religious 
man and his musings and meditations have therefore an authen- 
tic ring. 


We have now completed our bird's-eye view of Indo- 
Anglian poetry. Partial though the survey has been, it should be 
enough to show that, considering the circumstances of its pro- 
duction, Indo- Anglian poetry lacks neither variety nor integrity 
nor intrinsic worth. The authentic quite genuinely authentic 
poets are doubtless a mere fraction of the large number of 
actual practitioners of English verse. 


But, then, this is as true of the vernaculars as well as 
also of the literatures of European countries. Every year about 
three thousand new novels and about live hundred new books 
of verse used to be published in England immediately before 
the present war ; and how many of these will live a century 

Hence it is not necessary to run down the Indo-Anglians ; 
as in every category of human beings, here too we shall have 
a few very good specimens, many more tolerable specimens, 
the rest being eligible merely for oblivion. The best Indo- 
Anglian poets have given us something which neither English 
poetry nor any of our regional literatures can give ; in other 
words, they have effected a true marriage of Indian processes 
of poetic experience with English formulae of verse expression. 

And to conclude if what has already been achieved by 
a Toru Dutt, a Sarojini Naidu, an Aurobindo Ghose, a Nagesh 
Wishwanath Pai and a Manmohan Ghose is earnest of the 
future, we need not entertain gloomy thoughts about the Indo- 
Anglian poetry of to-morrow or of the day after. 



The Indo-Anglians have done little that is distinctive or 
remarkable in the field of drama. We have already referred in 
the chapter on Tagore to his playv Chitra, The Post Office, 
arid the ^esf^whlch 'are~5Ta "category apart ; they have been 
acted, at times with an astonishing measure of success ; in the 
main, however, they are vast symbols and have to be experi- 
enced and interpreted in the theatre of one's own soul rather 
than in theatres of brick and mortar or reinforced concrete. 

DRAMA 157 

(in the appropriate places we have also referred to Sri 
Aurobindo's tour de force, Perseus the Deliverer, Madhusudhan 
Dutt's Is this called Civilization?, Harindranath Chatto- 
padhyaya's Five Pltys, Uma Maheswer's Buddha, Sita in her 
Sorrows, and Millennial Dawn, and Saranathan's Indrajit. Most^ 
of these plays are dramatic in form no doubt, but wereHniof 
apparently intended to be acted ; they are, in intention (if 
not always in execution), poetic pieces pure and simple. This is 
true also of Isvaran's Hire Bai : or, the Romance of Aurang- 
zib, a playlet in blank verse, Mr. B. N. Saletore's one-act play 
Savitri and Mr. Dhan Gopal Mukerji's musical play, Layla- 

Bhushan's playletSr Anklet Bells, pamyukta, Ear Rings 
and Mortal Coils are all interesting things to read, though 
rather somewhat flawed in construction ; how far they can be 
successfully presented on the stage is more than the present 
writer can say. 

Mr._A. S. Panchapakesa Ayyar has published a number 
of plays, Sitds Choice, The Slave of Ideas, Trial of Science 
for the Murder of Humanity, and A Mothers Sacrifice, all 
plays with a purpose and written in brisk English prose. Like- 
wise Armando Menezes's Caste, Nocolau J. de Menezes's The 

Son of Man, and R. K. Narayan's The Watchman of the Lake 

* i / 

are vivid compositions, whatever may be their possibilities on 
the actual stage. 

There must be numberless other plays and playlets, written 
with a view to being only read, and hence unluckily buried in 
second-hand book-stalls or in the columns of old (and perhaps 
defunct) newspapers and magazines. 


The paucity of good Indo-Anglian dramas, their poor 
actable qualities, their weakness in construction and their 


general failure to reproduce the turns and rhythms of actual 
speech, all these are palpable enough ; and the reasons for 
this state of affairs are not far to seek either. Indo-Anglian 
dramatists have very few chances of having their plays present- 
ed on the stage ; they have to depend, therefore, on a scattered 
audience of readers. But the readers, on their part, prefer 
not unnaturally to read novels- and stories rather than plays 
which, being deprived of the aids of stage scenery and acting, 
appear very tame in the duller and quieter atmosphere of the 

Moreover, Indo-Anglian dramatists are in a position to 
tackle only a severely restricted number of themes portraying 
contemporary Indian life. Very few Indians speak English 
habitually ; many of the people who speak it habitually do 
so very badly indeed ; almost as a rule, these people mix 
English and the vernacular (or _ vernaculars) in varying 
degrees. Thus a rural Indian scene does not generally have 
an authentic ring in English ; neither does an urban scene 
which attempts to portray the lives of labourers or the emo- 
tional complications in an average Indian home. 

No doubt, a .peasant girl, a factory hand, an unsophisti- 
cated middle-class wife, her tyrannical mother-in-law, these too 
can be made to talk English ; as a matter of fatt, some drama- 
tists have made them talk English ; but it does not sound 
natural ; and it cannot sufficiently be emphasized that verisi- 
militude is of the essence of social or realistic dramas. ~~ 

Thus the aspiring Indo-Anglian dramatist has really only 
two courses open to him : either to attempt serious drama 
on classical or historical or legendary or even modern themes, 
using for the purpose the most poetically effective speech ; or to 
attempt realistic or social drama, confining his range to that 
section or those sections of modern Indian society where 


English, for some reason or other, is spoken regularly as a 
matter of course. 

For instance, in many fashionable clubs in cities like 
Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Bangalore, and other big, 
centres, men and women try to speak English habitually. In 
these cities, social gatherings also assume a cosmopolitan colour 
and perforce English becomes the fashionable and convenient 
means of communication between the Bengali and the Maha- 
rashtrian, the Malayalee and the Tamilian, the Gujarati and 
the Kannadiga. 

Again, in Metropolitan Colleges and University centres, in 
popular city hostels and hotels, and even in some ultra 
modem homes where parents and children affect English for 
fashion's sake (but the fashion is said to be on the wane, 
really), the Indo- Anglian dramatist can find ample material 
for realistic or satirical or social drama. Such dramas will 
have verisimilitude and can stand representation on the actual 
stage ; other dramas, in which anybody or everybody is made 
to talk in English, may be interesting or amusing as stories 
but may not stand much chance of being stage successes. 


There is, then the problem of dialogue, a problem that 
faces alike the Indo-Anglian dramatist and novelist. An Indo- 
AngliaiVs themes are, for the most part, necessarily Indian ; 
and the characters have to be also generally Indians ; and many 
of the Indians who talk English indulge in various types of 
Indianisms and Babuisms or (more rarely) talk just like books. 
How, then, can the dramatist make out of such unpromising 
material nervously effective or beautiful or brilliant conversa- 

The novelist at least can make up in the descriptive part 
for his unavoidable failures in the conversational part of his; 


books ; but -with the dramatist ahfs ! all is conversation and 
nothing else, since stage-directions, however elaborate they 
may be made to be in a Shavian way, are props and no more. 
If the Indo-Anglian dramatist confines himself to the sophis- 
ticated sections of present-day Indian society, where English 
is spoken as a regular thing, he can certainly try to reproduce 
the curious turns, the memorable howlers, the laughable man- 
nerisms, and the ridiculous affectations that distinguish our 
too-too-Europeanized folk in their ordinary conversation. 
Otherwise it would be better to avoid colloquialisms, jitcha^ 
isms, slang and so forth. When typically Indian characters 
tnen and women who are sprung from the very soil of India 
and who have not ceased to be intimate with it when such 
characters are made to say " Gosh ! " or " dear, dear " or 
""'dammit" or something equally absurd, we do not have 
rersimilitude by any means, but only a perversion of the 
same ! 

It would, therefore, appear to be a healthy rule that men 
of the soil, when they are introduced in an English play, should 
be made to speak simple, unadorned, unbookish, conversational 
English, from which all vulgarisms and archaisms and slang 
are carefully and ruthlessly eschewed. 

Considering the above inherent difficulties of the dramatic 
form, it is not in the least surprising that the Indo-Anglians 
have so far given us very few really good exhibits in this genre. 



Among the most satisfactory plays by Indians in English 
are iKeT many comedies and farces of Mr. V. V. Srinivasa 


lyengar, an ex- Judge of the Madras High Court of Judicature 
"and sometime the Editor of the Madras monthly journal, the 
Everyman's Review. His plays have been collected in two 
volumes entitled Dramatic Divertissements, and most of them 
have actually been performed with success. Indeed, plays like 
Blessed in a Wife, Vichu's Wife, arid The Surgeon-Generate 
Prescription have lost none of their sparkle even to-day and 
can be both read with pleasure and staged with success. 

Many of Srinivasa lyengar's " dramatic divertissements " 
are merely interesting situations where vivacious and entertain- 
ing talk is possible ; the limitations of a " make-shift stage 
with very little scenery " where most of the plays were produced 
seem to have ruled out multiplicity of scene and incident and 
made the plays mostly a " talking " affair. 

But, then, how breezy is the talk, how full of sparkle and 
innuendo, how natural, how eminently enjoyable ! How inge- 
niously the jargon of the physicians and surgeons is bandied 
about in The Surgeon- General's Prescription ! And, in the end, 
this is the prescription : " Your daughter Miss Kamala is suf- 
fering from an affection in her heart for Mr. Manamohan. 
The enlargement of her heart is due to her love. The disloca- 
tion was brought about in trying to force her to marry a 
decrepit old widower. The inflammation followed as a conse- 
quence. You must be very careful in the treatment. You 
should give her a change at once from the Zamindar to Mr. 
Manamohan. Marry them in a week. She will be all right. 
I trust you as a professional man to carry out faithfully my 
prescription. A. Hamipersmith, Surgeon-General ". 

How cunningly, again, does the playwright reproduce the 
whole complex of multi-coloured life in the Metropolitan Club 
at Madras ! " Let me assure the reader ", says the dramatist, 
"that I have had no prototypes in mind and that the charac- 
ters in the play are only typical and not prototypical ". No 


use ! People would worry their heads a lot, wondering which 
of the exhibited caps would fit them to a nicety. The Metro- 
politan Club at Madras is not only the Cosmopolitan Club at 
Madras but any Social Club anywhere. We have a caste 
system in these " social " clubs even there ; but it is a very 
different caste system from the one to which we are accus- 
tomed in the outer world. Let Vasudevan explain: 

" The Brahmans are those that sit still in the reading- 
room upstairs. The Kshatriyas of the club fight at the 
cards table. The Vaisyas drive a profitable trade at 
snookers. And those who serve and return and return 
and serve on the Tennis Court are the Sudras ". 
Barrister Ratnam queries : "But who are the Panchamas?" 
Vasudevan has the answer pat : " You and I who belong 
to HO caste and the occasional who only pay their subscrip- 
tions and dropping in once in a way, peep about like Pariahs, 
and are glad to get away "'. And epigrams fly about in wild 
disarray and worldly wisdom assumes unusual garbs : the 
cheque-book is "the quintessence of convenience, the incarna- 
tion of modern credif^and the very foundation of present-day 
social fabric " ; " Womari's place is home ! If home is woman- 
less man is homeless* 1 ' (Judge Atmaram Iyer, like Milton's 
elephant, jokes with difficulty, but it is a joke all the same) ; 
" the veranda boy must always be in the veranda " ; and so 
on. After reading this play, Wait for the Stroke, we can 
readily sympathize with the author when he says : " I am 
conscious that the play is not longer than it is. But it is 
not because the Metropolitan Club of Sadras has no phases 
and features to furnish further material. It is not longer, only 
because those who wanted it wanted it no longer ". 

The Tragic Denouement, another entertaining little play, 
attempts to represent "the happenings of a morning in an 
Indian Lawyer's domestic office". It is without question a 


caricature but even a caricature glimpses the truth all right, 
only it may not be the whole truth I The situation that the 
dramatist has seized upon is intrinsically and tragi-comically 
funny. The brilliant lawyer piling lie upon lie just in order 
to make an impression upon his visitor, quite possibly a rich 
would-be client, and discovering, all too suddenly, that it is 
only the Income-Tax Inspector come to gather information 
about the extent of this brilliant lawyer's practice ! 

While Srinivasa lyengar can portray such situations with 
dexterous ease and contagious gaiety, he is not equally success- 
ful in historical drama (At any Cost) or in essentially serious 
drama (The Bricks Between). The former does not create the 
illusion of historic truth and the latter does not transcend the 
stage of intellectual analysis and soar into the realms of the 
higher realism where the lie becomes the truth and the impos- 
sibly is seen to be probable indeed. 

^ Srinivasa lyengar achieved a considerable measure of suc- 
cess as an Indo-Anglian dramatist because he worked, by 
resolved limitation, within his own small bit of ivory. J In most 
of his plays, he only attempted the delineation of characters 
entirely within his range, men and women who belonged to his 
class ; he was therefore able to portray them dramatically and 
convincingly. Moreover, he did not attempt poetic drama 
or (except once) serious drama. He was content to move with 
delightful ease among the sophisticated impossibles and in- 
effectuals of a particular cross-section of society and he just 
amused himself and others by exposing the little follies and 
foibles pertaining to the chosen class and chosen types. He 
knew his metier, he knew his chosen bit of ivory (hardly two 
inches wide), and. hence he succeeded where many others, with 
their heavier equipment and higher ambition, only ignomi- 
niously failed. We may conclude in the words of the late 
Mr. Justice V. M. Coutts-Trotter : 


"They (Srinivasa lyengar's plays) will commend 
themselves by their humour, their facile style and their 
quick-moving dialogue . . . These plays give "us charming 
little sketches of social life in India, drawn with the deli- 
cate touch of a humour, which while it unsparingly exposes 
the foibles of society to our smiles, never ceases to be 
gentle and kincjly ". 


During the past decade or so, plays in English are being 
produced now and then by enterprising Indian writers and 
some of these plays are quite creditable. As yet, however, 
we have no masterpieces in this genre we have only merito- 
rious exhibits. But if more and more Indo-Anglians instead 
of invariably wooing the muse of poetry turn to the sister 
muse of drama, we are sure to have before long a crop of 
excellent Indo-Anglian comedies and tragedies and farces and 
what not. Meanwhile let us cherish what we already have. 

|In 1933, Mr. T. P. Kailasam,.. who has been referred to 
already in an earlier chapter, published two playlets, entitled 
respectively The Burden and Fulfilment. Both are inspired by 
our national epics ; but they make a poignant appeal to us 
nevertheless. The Burden handles the theme that Bhasa has 
developed in his Pratima Nataka or Statue Play ; but Kaila- 
sam's play has a strange power and beauty of its own. 
Bharata, returning from his grandfather's house, is made to 
realize, step by step, the remorseless truth that Dasaratha, 
his father, is dead. JUike Oedipus, Bharata learns the truth 
last, even Satrughna realizing it a minute or two earlier ; and 
Kailasam has shown in the play that he can make prose a 
fit vehicle for the expression of tragic emotion. It is but a 
scene from the immortal Ramayana but it is also a moving 


Fulfilment is a longer, more ambitious play. Ekalavya, 
Drona's ujiique pupil in archery, is making preparations for 
joining the Kauravas on the eve of Kurukshetra. Krishna tries 
to dissuade Ekalavya from making common cause with the 
enemies of the Pandavas, but Drona's pupil is determined to 
fight by the side of his master. The colloquy between Ekalavya 
and Krishna turns into a debate on " first and last " things, 
man's duty, good and evil, courage and cowardice ; Krishna is 
compelled at last to stab Ekalavya (much as Rama stabs 
Vali) in the back. Further, he is compelled to assure dying 
Ekalavya that his mother will not grieve as a consequence of his 
death. And Krishna, in order to carry out his promise, is forced 
to commit one more murder he kills Ekalavya's mother also. 
If she dies before learning the truth about her son, surely she 
will have no occasion to grieve over his death ! 

A terrible play, almost recalling in its sheer terror that 
one act modern play, Lord Dunsany's Night at an Inn. But 
Kailasam scores again ; Krishna remains divine-human in spite 
of the denouement ; his words to Ekalavya have prepared us 
for the double tragedy and the great fulfilment for, as Sri Auro- 
bindo says, 

The God of Wrath, the God of Love are one, 
Not least He loves when most He smites. 

Kailasam himself does not exactly subscribe to this mystic 
truth ; he is content to state the facts as he sees them ; and 
perhaps, like Goethe, Kailasam does not care to tell us what 
precisely he means in his writings. It is the reader's and spec- 
tator's job to make what they will of Kailasam's plays ! 


Some other Indo-Anglian plays too may be mentioned 
here. Mohammed A. R. Khan's Zamir : or Conscience Personi- 
fied is an interesting play that faithfully portrays one facet 


of modern Indian life ; Diwan: Bahadur K. S. Ramaswami 
Sastri's Drouprtdi is a drama in five acts depicting the spiritual 
Issues underlying the great Mahabharata story TPfoT D. "M. 
Borgaonkar's linage Breakers is a problem play dealing with 
theTinstitution of marriage ; and the present writer's Suniti and 
her Sp&use and The Battle of the Optionals are both farces of 
three scenes each. 

Mr. Suryadutt J. Bhatt's The Trial Celestial is an interest- 
ing play~enough, but it is overweighted with " purpose"; and 
it appears unlikely that, for all the sprightliness of its dialogue, 
the play will succeed on the stage. In his aggressive Foreword 
to the play, Mr. V. B. Karnik maintains that the play " subjects 
the values on which the whole ideological structure of orthodox 
nationalism is founded to a devastating criticism .... The 
author has here used, for the purpose of dramatic depiction, a 
god stripped of all his attributes that in the eyes of his devotee 
go to make up his godliness, in order to disillusion 'the old 
man in quest of his God ', struggling through life on the strength 
of a misplaced faith. The technique can prove effective, if not 
in dethroning God, at least in making him incapable of inter- 
fering with men's affairs". 

Be that as it may, Bhatt's Almighty (" stripped of all his 
attributes") is affable and genial ; Voltaire has his moments 
of forensic indignation ; the Astral Spirit blows alternately hot 
and cold ; and the Old Man in search of his God is alas ! un- 
convincing from the beginning to the end. 

\The Trial Celestial is cleverlyjcontriyed and is a very read- 
able play ; but its thought is on a par with that of an under- 
graduate prize debater moving the proposition : " Religion is 
a disease of the mind *'. At a time when even the Soviet mil- 
lions organize mass prayers for victory, it is beyond the 
capacity of an Indo-Anglian dramatist to challenge and shatter 


"the first premise of the religious mode of thought viz. the 
existence of a supernatural agency ". 

Mr. Bhatt, when all is said, has the makings of a good 
dramatist in him ; he is able to write breezy little speeches 
and he is gifted with a luxurious fancy. With a less intract- 
able theme, he should certainly be able to produce quite an 
entertaining and satisfying play. 


Mr^S. Fyzee-Rahamin's Daughter oj Ind has had the dis- 
tinction of being performed at public theatres in England as 
well as India and it has been enthusiastically received by the 
press. The printed version also has now been made available 
and it can be (as it deserves to be) critically studied. 

Perhaps, Fyzee-Rahamin attempts in his play to do far 
too much ; he has a somewhat extra-dramatic prologue sug- 
gested presumably by the practice of Sanskrit dramatists as 
also by the " Chroniclers " in Drinkwater's Abraham Lincoln 
consisting of four characters, including the Narrator ; the pro- 
logue, the epilogue and the apparently excrescent scene between 
the first and second scenes of Act II, all have been introduced 
to comment on the action, to suggest future possibilities, and to 
underline -the moral of the play. 

Again, in the course of the regular play itself, there are 
elements that are not realistic ; mysterious voices are heard, 
apparently issuing from the Kamini, the Chembelli, and the 
Rose ; Rose, for instance, speaks thus to Malti, thej heroine : 

" I am the spirit of Mohini, the enchantress. My 
swarthy and deep colour is always shedding an enviable 
lustre, and I invite all by my rich and delicate quality, and 
they fall to my charm without resistance, to be torn by 
thorns as Kings were torn to pieces when they desired 


me. I overcome all with my beauty and overpower them 
by my essence. I am the soul of all flowers ". 

The plot, too, has its improbable aspects ; the idealistic Eng- 
lishman and the adorable little untouchable girl, Malti, both 
seem to be abstractions ; on the other hand, the Colonel, the 
Bhatji, the Saokar and the valet seem to be mere caricatures 
or travesties. 

What has happened is this : Fyzee-Rahamin ha3 put into 
the crucible of his art both symbolism and satire, both romance 
and irony, both politics and poetry ; Malti we feel is too good 
and too wise to be true ; we feel that so many discordant 
elements could not possibly fuse into a coherent dramatic 

And yet Daughter of Ind somehow " bounces " us, as Mr. 
E. M. Forster might put it ; we begin by scoffing and end 
by discovering in Malti, not merely the age-long virtues of a 
typical "Daughter of Ind", but indeed (in Mr. Maurice Hew- 
lett's words) " the inexhaustible bounty of women ". The 
Narrator rightly says in the end : 

" Malti she knew the meaning of love, and held life 
as an instrument to gain its end ! She gave her greater 
self with its inner spiritual glory she was the candle that 
burnt itself to give light to others. Malti ! Your spirit 
now stands a symbol of deeper Consciousness, a conscious- 
ness, that supplies spiritual and mental forces that arc 
vital for human existence and those that Humanity is 
searching for ! Malti Daughter of Ind ". 

A trifle pompous, no doubt, but Jiow true ! Mr. Fyzee-Rahamir 
ha shown that an Indo-Anglian play is not an impossibility 
It is for others now to emulate and better his example. 




Very few Indians seem to have attempted fiction in English 
till the beginning of the present century. There was, as we 
have seen, considerable literary activity, especially in Bengal, 
during the last quarter of the nineteenth century in English 
and also in the vernaculars ; but original fiction was attempted 
mainly through the medium of the mother tongue. Sometimes 
English renderings of vernacular fiction appeared ; even so, the 
nupiber of novels published by the Indians was not very large. 
(The marvellous Torulata (Toru Dutt), besides her many 
poems and her French novel, wrote in her teens an English 
novel also, Bianca or the Young Spanish Maiden ; it was pub- 
lished after her death by her father in the columns of The 
Bengal Magazine.] It was certainly a remarkable performance 
for a mere girl to whom English was an utterly alien language. 
The novel, however, has not been published in book form, 

Romesh Chunder Dutt jvas, among many other important 
things, a gifted hdveiist as well. Two of his Bengali novels 
were also published in English, the translations being the work 
of the author himself. The Slave Girl of Agra : An Indian 
Historical Romance (1909) deals with Mughal times and gives 
a picture of social life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centu- 
ries. Love, hatred, intrigue, jealousy, all these are shaken into 
a compound in the novel. 

Romesh Chunder's The Lake of Palms : A Story of Indian 
Domestic Life (1902) is an intimate and reliable picture of 
social life in the Bengal of about half a century ago. " The Lake 
of Palms" is the name of the village in which many of the 
scenes in the novel are laid ; and the village is almost the hero 


of the book ; in it or out of it, its children are utterly unable 
to tear themselves spiritually away from it. 

The Lake of Palms is crowded with a whole host of 
interesting characters. Hindu, Uma, and Kalee, Sarat, Sudha 
and Dhananjay, all are vividly and convincingly portrayed ; 
the crucial event, the marriage of Sarat to the young widow 
Sudha, is casually related to the rest of the action and is thus 
artistically presented. 

And yet, while the atmosphere of the village pervades the 
book, the inset snapshots of city life are no less Interesting. 
Here we have indeed, not only a good story but a good novel, 
in which action and character ,are reasonably bound by the 
logic of causality. Romesh Chunder's language also is through- 
out adequate and meets the demands made upon it without 
any perceptible strain. 


Two very early novels were Raj Lakshmi Debi's The 
Hindu Wife, or the Enchanted Fn3T7T87(^and Khetrapal 
Chakrabarti's Sarata and Hingana (1895). These novels have, 
Tiowever, no more than an antiquarian interest for us. Hardly 
more important for the historian of Indo-Anglian literature is 
either H. Butt's Bijoy Chand (1888) or Kali Krishna Lahiri's 
Rashinara (1881). ~"~ ~ 

Infinitely more significant are the various English transla- 
tions of j3ankigoLjCJ]^ndra Chatterjee's celebrated novels which 
largely contributed to the literary renaissance in India during 
the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The Poison Tree : 
A Tale of Hindu Life in Bengal was translated and issued in 
1884 ; Kapalkundala in 1885 ; Durgeshnandini in 1890 ; Kri- 
shnakanta's Will in 1895 ; The Two Rings in 1897 ; and Raj- 
mohan's Wife in 1904. These novels were read widely outside 
Bengal, in India as well as abroad ; through them alone could 


the non^Bengali reader catch a faint glimpse at least of this 
great JQtap in letters who taught the country the potent mantra 
of Bandemataram. 

Bankim Chandrai's novels gave at once a standing and a 
status to the Indian novel, which now seemed to have left its 
nonage far behind and to have started already on its full career. 
His novels were more than mere novels to trifle idle hours with 
they were the testaments of a ripe seer's wisdom, they con- 
stituted the Bible of the new patriotism. In the words of 
Sri Aurobindo, , 

"It was the gospel of fearless strength and 
force which he preached under a veil and in 
images in Ananda Math and Devi Choudhurani. 
And he had an inspiring unerring vision of the 
moral strength which must be ""at the back of the 
outer force. He perceived that the first element of the 
'moral strength must be tyaga, complete self-sacrifice for 
the country and complete self-devotion to the work of 
liberation Again, he perceived that the second ele- 
ment of the moral strength needed must be self-discipline 
and organization. This truth he expressed in the elaborate 
training of Devi Choudhurani for her work, in the strict 
rules of the Association of the " Anand Mkth " and in 
the pictures of perfect organization which those books con 
tain. Lastly, he perceived that the third element of moral 
strength must be the infusion of religious feeling into 
v patriotic work. The religion of patriotism that is the 
master idea of Bankim's writings ", 
Prophecy, then, was Bankim's peculiar gift ; but his novels 
are also beautifully realized in terms of art. Bankim belongs 
to Bengali literature just as Rabindranath belongs to itj^ but 
both of them belong at the same time to India as a whole ; 
and it is not therefore inappropriate that Indo-Anglian litera- 


ture should claim a legitimate share in the achievements of 
these Titantic literary figures. 


TheJateJS. R. Rajam Iyer, who produced in Kamalambal 
Chafitram one of the earliest and best novels in Tamil, wrote 
an English novel as well, Vasudeva Sastri, which serially 
appeared in Prabuddha Bharwto in the closing years of the 
last century ; the novel is now republished in Rajam Iyer's, 
Rambles in Vedanta (1905). 

Vasudeva Sastri is a study of " true greatness " the-great- 
ness of a Vedantin. Rajam Iyer sketches his portrait^ with 
convincing vividness : 

" . . . . a middle-aged man of fair complexion and well- 
proportioned limbs ; his face was the most remarkable 
thing about him. There was a calmness and a serenity 
in it, a gentleness, a sweetness and a luxuriant cheerful- 
ness like that of a full-blown lotus flower, which an ancient 
rishi might have envied ; and in his large, beautiful eyes, 
there was an angelic expression of goodness, which by its 
silent and sweet magic could have soothed the anger of 
a Durvasa. The glory of these eyes, if I may say so, lay, 
not in occasional lightning-like flashes, but in their con- 
stant and continued revelation of the ocean of goodness, 
love and calmness that dwelt within .... He seemed to 
depend for his happiness on nothing outside and he 
was never known to be excited either by pleasure or by 
pain and much less get angry ". 

Perhaps, the language is a trifle over-elaborate ; it is Oriental 
in its particularity and similitudes ; but it is competent enough 
to bring to life a Vedantin like Vasudeva Sastri, a sweet and 
pious lady like Seetha Lakshmi, a termagant like AnnammaL 
a pompous and humourless official like Narayana Iyer. Al- 


though Rajam Iyer died in his prime when he was hardly 
twenty-six years old, he already wielded an English prose style 
of remarkable power and elasticity. The twenty chapters of 
Vasudeva Sastri (the book was not completed by Rajam Iyer) 
show both his delicate sense of humour and command over 

Vastideva Sastri is very interesting to read ; the characters 
are creatures of flesh and blood and even the current of Vedan- 
tism does not make the book dull. Now and then, Rajam Iyer 
adopts a Fieldingian burlesque style, but it turns out all right 
in the end. No doubt Vasudeva Sastri is a promise rather than 
an achievement ; before the promise could be redeemed, Rajam 
Iyer's own earthly course was run, and he remains, like Keats 
and Chatterton and Toru and Derozio, yet one more " inheritor 
of unfulfilled renown ". 

Another early South Indian writer was Mr.^ A. Madhaviah ; 
besides his prose rendering of Ramayana and the metrical nar- 
rative on the tragedy of Snehalata, the unhappy girl martyr 
to the demon of the dowry system, he also wrote two novels, 
Panju and the more famous Thillai Govindan. The latter 
attempts to portray the evolution of a young South Indian intel- 
lectual who rebels against the cramping limitations of formal 
religion ; perhaps, the book is slightly autobiographical. 

, Yet another South Indian, T. Ramakrishna, published 
two romances, Padmini (1903) and The Dive for Death 
(1912)* The first is a romance of the sixteenth century and 
under cover of a romantic story competently narrates the his- 
torical events leading to the great battle of Talikote, which 
brought to an abrupt and disastrous close the history of the 
never-to-be-forgotten Vijayanagar Empire. The Dive for 
Death, on the other hand, is based on certain South Indian 
superstitions and has OB the whole an eerie atmosphere. 



Among other early books of fiction, mention may be made 
of Mr. jxJBj. Bannerjee's Tales of Bengal (19 1,0) and Indian 
Detective Stories (1911) ; the former has been described by 
Prof. Bhupal Singh as " a sincere but commonplace collection 
of tales of rural India. Samendra, Ram Harak, and Sham 
Babu show that humanity is the same in rural Bengal as in 
rural England ". The " detective stories " deal with crimes 
and detection, but they hardly ever acquire the scientific perfec- 
tion of a Sherlock Holmes or Poirot story. ^Anyhow, Banner- 
jee's pictures of rural and urban Bengal will be of some value to 
the social historian. 

, Mrs. Ghosal (Swarna Kumari Devi) was the author of two 
undistinguished books, An Unfinished $ong (1913) and The 
Fatal Garland (1915). M^JC^Owjsh was a far better story- 
teller even when he assumed a long-winded Oriental pose. Apart 
from his 1001 Indian Nights or the Trials of Narayan Lai 
(1904), which is readable fiction, Ghosh's The Prince of Des- 
tiny (1909) is an interesting novel with political implications. 
The "Prince of Destiny" is Barath, an ambitious attempt at 
portraying a character who shall symbolize "a union of the 
highest ideals of the East and West ". It is, for all its 
"purpose", a good story with a fair blend of action, charac- 
terization and scenic description. 

Mr. S. M. Mitra'jS Hmdupore : A Peep behind the Indian 
Unrest (1909) is a political novel. A certain Lord Tara 
proceeds to Hmdupore, falls in love with the adorable Princess 
Kamala, and marries her. This human story is only a cover 
to do a bit of propaganda against the British administrator in 
India, the Muhammadan communali&t, the Eurasian official, 
and the unsympathetic non-official European ; while the pro- 


paganda may be said to be effective enough, the story itself 
is haltingly told and lacks verisimilitude. 

From the North came in the meantime the delightful 
short stories of Cornelia Sorabji Love and Li]e behind the 
Purdah (1901), Sun-Babies (1904) and Between the Twilights 
(1908). Some of these stories had appeared already in journals 
like The Nineteenth Century <md After and Macmillan's Maga- 
zine and enjoyed a considerable vogue in England and India. 

Miss Sorabji wields a facile pen and has an eye for 
incident and character and a commendable sense of form. Love 
and life are possible even behind the purdah, and Miss Sorabji 
is fully conscious of this fact ; but such love and life assume 
a melancholy hue when described in a story or a novel. And 
tragedy or ecstasy, life behind the purdah is essentially " static " 
and is rarely a congenial theme for a novelist. But Miss 
Sorabji has done her best and has succeeded in writing stories 
that have the singular merit of at once telling good yams and 
insinuating the great values and verities of life. Miss Soiabji 
is besides the author of a very well-written life of her sister,. 
Susie Sorabji. 

Another writer from the North is the Hon. Sardar Sir 
Jogendra Singh, the present Member fcr Education and Health 
"iif~ the Governor-General's Executive Council. Nur Jahan 
(1909), Nasrin (1915), Kamla (1925) and Katnni (1931) 
constitute Sir Jogendra's contribution to Indo-Anglian fiction. 
More recently, Sir Jogendra has published a biography of Guru 
Nanak and an informative and interesting book entitled, Sikh 
Ceremonies, a book that fully reveals an experienced story- 
teller's art. 

Of Sir Jogendra's novels, Nur Jahan, as its title indi- 
cates, is a historical romance ; Nasrin is a peep into 4< high " 


life, the sensual and futile life of nawabs and taluqdars who 
eat and drink and 1 inhabit the sensual JPurgatory of their own 
creation. In his two later novels, Sir Jogendra attempts to 
portray "low" life also, though romance and philosophy are 
not given up either ; and an hour or two can always be spent 
profitably in making the acquaintance of Sir Jogendra's na\\abs 
and rajahs, his liars and drunkards, his hill girls and zenana 
beauties, his philosophers and metaphysicians. 

Sir Jogendra's last novel, Kamni, is dedicated to his tenants 
" whose love was the inspiration of my youth and to serve 
them is the ambition of my old age "'. Kamni is the daughter 
of the village barber ; she is persecuted by the admirers of 
her beauty ; she and her father are compelled to leave their 
village and seek service in a city. After many interesting and, 
often depressing adventures, Kamni obtains an asylum in the 
house of a Miss Greenwood ; she is happy now, she learns to 
read and she learns many things, and she learns to love also. 
There is one more turn in the wheel of hr fortune, and she 
succumbs presently to brain fever. Her lover, Ratan Nath, 
decides to start a school for the education of women, calmly 
awaiting the day when he could meet Kamni on the " other side 
of the grave". 

jSir_Jogendra is a good story-teller. His novels have _a. 
considerable admixture of^ philosophy and propaganda, but they 
do not smother the human element in the^stories. Sir Jogendra 
is on the^de~brthe angeIs";TieTs all for improving the condi- 
tion of the peasants and relieving "the sadness, the utter 
tragedy of a woman's life 1 "; he is an ardent Sikh, but he is 
no fanatic. One of the finest moments in his fiction is the 
gleam of mutual recognition that passes between a Sikh mer- 
cHanT~and a Christian missionary. "I find in you a true 
Christian ", says Miss Greenwood addressing the Sikh ; ainti the 
latter says with a smile : " I find in you a true Sikh. All 


those who work in righteousness and fight falsehood are Sikhs ". 
It is good to have examples of such tolerance and such gene- 
rosity of understanding in this land of many religions ! 

One more writer from the Punjab should be mentioned 
here : Balkrishna. In his sole novel, The Love of Kusuma 
(1910), Balkrishna attempted to delineate the minutiae of 
Indian social life. As a novel, The Love o] Kusuma must be 
pronounced a failure ; realism and romance make an incpn- 
'griious mixture in the novel ; and humanity almost breaks 
uhcfer a heavy load of sermonizings and improbabilities. Mohun 
"the hero meetVTSisuma near the lake at Rajgirhi ; and they 
fail in love as a matter of course. Around this theme Bal- 
krishna constructs his fictional edifice but it turns out to be 
neither a homely cottage nor a luxurious castle ! 




Soon after the Great War of 1914-18, several Indian 
writers started attempting fiction in English. Tagore's 
Short Stories had come out in their English garb in 
1915, to be soon followed by Hungry Atones and Other Stories 
"(19167, Mashi.arid Other Stories (1918), The Home and the^ 
World (l9l},_The Wreck (1921), Gora (1923) and Broken 
Ties and Other Stories (1925). 

Already immensely popular in Bengal, these stories and 
novels now acquired an international currency. We have dis- 
cussed them, though necessarily briefly, in -a previous chapter ; 
here it is enough to point out that Tagore's novels and short 
stories gave an incentive to other Indians to attempt self-expres- 
*Sion "through the novel and the short stolryT "-~~~ - - - 



It may also be added that the post- War period (or rather 
the period between the two wars) in India saw a considerable 
change in the journalistic world. Old newspapers and journals 
well stabilized themselves and many fresh ones boldly made 
a bid for popularity. There was something of an actual 
demand for short stories in English and occasionally even for 
serial novels. 


Among the Indo-Anglians who came to prominence in the 
first decade after the war, one of the most outstanding was 
Mr. K. S. Venkataramani. His first published book, Paper 
2Swfs,^gave a few^vignettes of South Indian village life, deli- 
cately and memorably sketched by an artist who is also a poet 
and, humorist to his finger tips. Venkataramani would arrest 
change if he could ; but no, the more's the pity ! -the Indian 
village is changing, and changing for the worse. Thus the 
sketches in Paper Boats, although they but attempt an objec- 
tive portraiture of the village temple, the typical grandmother, 
the Registrar of Assurances, the valiant beggar and the like, 
are really suffused with the author's regret that things should 
change, that they would change for the worse ; that the villager 
would migrate to the city ; that he would give his heart away 
in exchange for a mess of pottage. There are many who 
maintain and not without justification either ! -that Paper 
Boats is Venkataramani's best and most 

Close ~upon the heels Tot "Paper Boats came On the Sand- 
(1923).t is a bok ofprose-poems ; the form had 

_ ^ ^ 

by then been popuTafi;zS % Tagore's Gttanjatt and its succes^ 
sors, buFTIre iTfj^ from 

within. It is a string of musings and reveries and meditations, 
plaintively and at times aggressively moaning the general and 
almost irreparable hurt that modern civilization has inflicted 


on sensitive souls ; it is almost a catalogue of the frustrations, 
ambiguities, and jibsurdities of our vaunted civilization, a 
catalogue^streamlined by the agonizing music that screams out 
our accumulated ills. The ToTlbwmg extracts will illustrate 
at once Venkataramani's attitude towards our Europeanized way 
of life and also the singular quality of his haunting and excru- 
ciating prose : 

" What a lifeless throb has become our life ! The work 
that is meant to feed oneself feeds another and the sacred 
toil for the day becomes a chill, dreary loveless waste. 
Man is set on the treadmill and he goes round and round, 
footeore and palsied in a circle of pathetic waste. 

That man, the giant of evolution, should become the 
slave of the very slave he himself had forged ! The ghost 
whom you raised to work for you has become your own 

master. Why ? The Nemesis of your own greed ! 

" O Stars ! ever-shining that you are with the jtranguil 
ease of the ages ! Tell me, do you labour for your twink- 
ling light ? . . . Do giant trees and long-winding creepers 
labour for their food ? Or the most fragrant flowers sweat 
for their perfume ? ... Then why should man alone on 
earth slave for his daily food ? .... 

" The river has the sea. The flower has the bee. My 
life will end with me. But I am happy to be left alone 
on these sand-dunes cheered by the kiss of the truant wind, 
the chill embrace of the waves, the inscrutable lisp of the 
river, the strange music of the sea, and the broken light of 
the stars . . . . " * Vy$Jh^%j*V>**^~ 

Not all of the reveries in the book are of a high quality ; 
some are rather spoilt by the intrusion of ajiorniletic or a 
merely platform style ; and autobiography, poetry,, and diatribe 
against political economy do not always fuse into art. But 
On the Sand-Dunes is typically a Venkataramani book ; the 


best of him is in it, had x we the imaginative sympathy to -distil 
it out and the wisdom to treasure it. 


JThen came Murugan the Tiller (1927), described as^a^ 
novel of MianjnuraHife ". Murugan literally took the intelli- 
gentsia^ of Madras by storm. Its vivid pictures of village life, 
its even more vivid pictures of city life, its profound studies 
in character, its poetry and its abundant good humour, these 
appealed to the "common reader " at once. Presently the 
book won golden opinions all over India and in the entire 
English-speaking world generally. Kedari and Ramu are a 
suggestive study in contrast ; Janaki and Sita and Kokilam, 
heirs to the eternal feminine all of them, are yet finely differer 
tiated ; even Cadell and Markandam and Murugan ring true. 
The river scenes at Alavanti come at regular intervals and they 
are as good as choruses summing up the march of events 
" under the Alavanti sun and a little beyond " with an agree- 
able and tantalizing finality. Murugan is a plea for a return 
to the village ; but it is also a very human story, a story that^ 
has won the hearts of several thousands of south Indian 

Murugan was followed by a sort of 'idealistic " tract for 
the times.'*, The Next Rung, and a book for children, A Day 
with Sambhu (1929). In the latter, a miniature masterpiece 
in form and content and expression, Venkataramani achieved 
an astonishing simplicity in diction ; and, excepting for the 
alien language in which it is clothed, this little book might very 
well be the friendly discourse of one of India's ancient rishis 
to a Small boy in his Asram. 

Kandan the Patriot, " a novel of New India in the mak- 
ing", and dedicated to "the Unknown Volunteer in India's 
fight for freedom", appeared in January 1932. Kandan was 


a reincarnation of Murugan and they are both something of 
their creator, something of Mahatma Gandhi, something too 
of India's own undying spirit at its best and purest. The 
novel first appeared serially in the Swarajya ; and in book form 
it has had a considerable vogue in the country. It is, perhaps, 
the, most artistic expressipn^of the Gandhian era in Indian" 

Kandan may be described as the pqetry^of idealistic poli- 
tics just as Murugan is the poetry of idealistic economics ; they 
are the reverse and obverse of the same question- different 
only to be complimentary to each other. The battle-cries of 
civil disobedience, prohibition, swaraj, satyagraha, and the rest 
fill the vibrant air of Kandan and the sensitive reader can 
quickly respond to them all ; but all are rendered in terms 
of poetry and idealism. Murugan and Kandan are studded 
with many jewelled phrases and many seemingly excrescent 
passages of impassioned prose or idealistic philosophy. But 
they too are Venkataramani and one soon learns to understand 
and cherish them as well. One such significant passage from 
Kandan may be given here by way of illustration : 

"What does it matter to an impersonal divinity that 
choice flowers distil the honey from the dew by a mysterious 
process still unknown to the gods, that bees roam for miles 
to gather the honey drop by drop with infinite toil, and 
at last bring together this intricate work of worship to 
the Sun-God, and build the honeycomb amidst sun-lit rocks, 
patted by the roaming wind, blessed by the murmuring brook 
and kissed by the stars ; all only to be broken at the end 
by the heavy and plundering footsteps of man?" 

The creative urge of Venkataramani apparently exhausted 
itself in Kandan and Murugan, for we have not had from him 
during the ten years and more that have elapsed since their 
publication any comparable work of creative art. He has 


no doubt given us a collection of short stories Jatadharan and 
other Stories (1937) but the bulk of it had been written in 
the twenties or earlier. Venkataramani has now turned his 
attention to Tamil journalism and is now editing with perse- 
verance a Tamil monthly journal, Bharata Mani. 

Admirers are often unreasonable ; they want their heroes 
to go through the same old gyrations again and again. Like- 
wise Venkataramani's admirers^waiifed him to write novel after 
novel after the manner of Murugan and Kandan ; but he would 
not oblige his admirers, and perhaps, his present pre-occupa- 
tions being elsewhere, he simply could not. 

Whatever may be our regrets in this matter, Venkata- 
ramani's achievement, such as it is, is quite substantial and 
solid. As Sir C. Ramalinga Reddy has pointed out, Venkata r . 
famani " presents South Indian life both in its traditional, con- 
se~rvative and in its modern, dynamic aspects with convincing 
sincerity and fascinating power. His studies and interpreta- 
tions are charged with sympathy, understanding and imagina- 
tion and they range over a wide and various field ". 

It is to be remembered, however, that Venkataramani, like 
Tagore, is primarily a poet ; but he was driven to use the novel 
form as the most suitable channel for the communication of 
his reliable Jntmtions and hisi not-so-reliable panaceas. In 
Paper Boats and On the Sand-Dunes, in A Day with Sambhu 
and Jatadharan, in Murugan and Kandan, in all these books. 
J^e^katoamanijs artist and prophet both ; and when the alli- 
ance is incongruous and it is incongruous now and then it 
is the latter that turns out to be the loser. Venkataramani's 
major characters are intellectuals who perceive the futility of 
intellectualism ; they are sophisticated and Anglicized, but they 
pathetically wish to escape the stifling attractions of town life 
and return once again to the bosom of the country. Ramu, 
Kandan, Jatadharan, all are variations on the same theme 


and they are all attempts at portraying the ideal Indian to 
be, the hero of to-morrow who will redeem the country and 
ensure its healthy progress. 

yenkataramani the artist in words, the creator of^chara^ 
ters who exchange metaphors with delightful ease, is also a 
prophet with a message to his countrymen. And it is a very 
simple message : " Be faithful to the land, and the land will 
be faithful to you ". It is not a revolutionary message ; on 
the contrary, it is even in these degenerate days) the unconscious 
ruling principle of several millions of mute inglorious Murugans 
and Kandans and Jatadharans in the seven lakhs of Indian 
villages. Venkataramani is their Laureate ! 


Shanker Ram's English publications are only three : The 
Children of the Kaveri (1927), Creatures All (1931) and The 
Love of Dust (1938). A juvenile novel, The Joint Family 
remains unpublished ; but it has been translated by the author 
himself into Tamil and published recently under the name, 
Parvathi. The Tamil version is very good and hardly reveals 
traces of immaturity ; the characters are finely and firmly 
drawn, the dialogues are racy and convincing, and the plot has 
a rounded perfection that makes a lasting impression on the 
reader. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the original English 
version too will be published at an early date. 

The Children of the Kaveri and Creatures All are collec- 
tions of five and six short stories respectively, while The Love 
jo] Dwt is a novel of nearly three hundred pages. Slender as 
is Shanker Ram's output, it is nevertheless of a very high 
quality, and consistently so. In his appreciative Foreword to 
The Childreri~bJ~~tWKveri, Prof. J. C. Rollo aptly remarks : 
" This simple representation of village life on the banks of the 
Kaveri is true and subtle. A sympathetic and vivid imagina- 


tion gives life to the persons and reality to their problems, 
There is no pretence at mighty effects of situation or rhetoric. 
By entirely natural talk and the slightest touches of descrip- 
tion the atmosphere of this cold and changeless rural life is com- 
municated ". These remarks are equally applicable to Shanker 
Ram's other bodes. 

Shanker Ram's perennial theme is the Indian peasant To 
him India is the unsophisticated^ India of the countryside, the^ 
'real India. Shanker Ram knows the peasant so well that it 
seems as though he has not only provided the themes of these 
stories, but actually to have written them. The bareness of 
the language gives vividness and strength to Shanker Ram's 
portraits of villagers ; he seems to have seized his characters 
by inward vision and portrayed them memorably and convin- 

In a Preface to a collection of the Tamil versions of his 
stories, Shanker Ram wisely points out that a good short story 
should not only have a due concord of parts but should also, 
according to its own unique laws, live ; it should lay the reader 
under a spell with the first sentence and release him only when 
the curtain is finally rung over the drama. Judged in the light 
of this ideal, Shanker Ram's attempts must be pronounced 
very good short stories indeed. In every one of them, there 
is a development and a crisis, the former being as natural as 
the latter is inevitable. There is no padding, no word-spin- 
ning ; and there is always an admirable consistency in tone. 
The primary human emotions and passions love and friend- 
ship, greed and hatred, revenge, filial piety, are the sustaining 
elan vital of most of these stories. But humour is not absent 
either, though at its best Shanker Ram's humour is allied to 
a Franciscan universal sympathy that ennobles the very object 
that is apparently laughed at. Shanker Ram thus excels him- 
self most while recording those great spiritual crises in human 


lives when the dividing fine between tears and laughter is very 
tenuous indeed. In -stories like Three Yards oj Pumpkin 
Creeper, Is it a Crime to Ignore Another's Faith and When 
One Wound can Heal Another, Shanker Ram's seemingly effort- 
less art achieves its most memorable triumphs. 

Shanker Ram's novel, The Love oj Dust, is an inspiring 
performance. He has almost an infallible sense of form and 
this rightly excludes from the framework of his novel all ele- 
ments of surplusage. The trouble with most writers is that 
they will not let one off ; they will insist on telling one every- 
thing, however clearly one may know it oneself. Shanker Ram's 
artistic restraint is, therefore, a rare quality to be thankful 
for ; his very silences are often eloquent and sometimes the 
jnarticulateness of his characters suggests infinities in thought 
and feeling. 

Shanker Ram knows Daridranarayana and can reveal the 
involutions of his thought and the very eddies of his souL 
If Venkataramani is an Indo- Anglian variation of Tolstoy, 
Shanker Ram is a similar variation of Dostoevsky. Shanker 
Rani's characters raid the chambers of the reader's sub-con- 
scious self and possess them with finality. Velan and Valli, 
the hero and heroine respectively of The Lobe of Dust, are 
creatures of the soil, open-hearted, simple and brave, and cap- 
able of love, sacrifice and forgiveness. Venkatachaiam who 
loves his ancestral lands with a religious love and veneration 
is an utterly veracious and ennobling character. As for the 
wretched Chola, so awful, so pathetic, so very human, so 
almost like Dmitri Karamazov, he reminds us of the terrible 
portraits of the great Spanish painters or the characters in 
some of the stupendous Russian novels. Criminal or farmer 
or Kangani or boatman or tout, strip them of their professions 
or poses or protestations, and you find them all human, just 
" creatures all." Indeed, Shanker Ram would go even further 


and equate men with buffaloes like Buchanna and Ramanna 
and with the tiger in The Rajah's Last Hunt that dies resign- 
edly and heroically in a supreme attempt to bring succour to 
his dying mate in the throes of parturition. The ache that is 
ever at the heart of all living creatures is the stuff out of which 
Shanker Ram creates his vivid and moving stories, 

Dr. Mulk Raj Anand hails from the extreme North- West 
of InHIaTffis birth-place being Peshawar. He was educated 
at theTQhjab University and subsequently at the London and 
Cambridge Universities. A little under forty, Mulk Raj Anand 
has already several novels and other books to his credit. 

jAnand started with an excellent book on Curries and other 
Indian Dishes ; he followed it up with a book on Indian Art 
and a series of remarkable novels, The Coolie, The Untouch- 
able, Two Leaves and a Bud, The Village, and Across the Black 
Waters ; his most recent publication (if none more recent still 
has yet come out ! ) is Letters on India, a plain-spoken account 
of the Indian situation to-day. Anand has besides published 
a number of short stories in English and various articles of 
general interest ; and Jie jias also been associated with the 
Indian Progressive Writers' Movement and is a member_of 
the editorial board of New Indian Literature, the quarterly 
journal of the movement issued from Lucknow. Anand is thus 
both a copious and a versatile writer and his literary future 
Is rich with possibilities. 

As a delineator of Indian social life, Anand's sympathies 
are with the masses. HisJ*eart bleeds for the many under- 
dogs in Indian social lifef^Hence the coolies and the untouch- 
able are excruciatingly vivified before us as proofs of man's 
cruelty to man all the world over, and especially in the un- 
redeemed India of to-day.) 


Cln The Untouchable, Anand tells the story of a young 
sweeper, Bakha, who starts life as a latrine-cleaner at the Bri- 
tish BarracksJ Bakha admires the Tommies, for they treat 
him as a human being while the caste Hindus treat him as a 
mere "untouchable"; and he decks himself with the cast-off 
garments of the Tommies and saunters one day through the 
town. Bakha is now made disagreeably conscious of the fact 
that, European garments or no, he is still an " untouchable " ; 
the Hindu merchant, the sanctimonious and lecherous priest, 
the inhumanity of the " twice-born " crowd, all sour and 
embitter him. 

Bakha would gladly find a way out of his dismal predica- 
ment. The solution offered by the Christian missionary does 
not appeal to Bakha, who cannot even understand it ; Gandhism 
too notwithstanding the fact Mahatma Gandhi gives him the 
name of harijtm does not appeal to him in the least. Perhaps, 
there might be (Bakha thinks) something in the words of the 
modernist materialist who extolled the advantages of water- 
closets and an efficient drainage system, and so Bakha returns 
to his hovel raptly meditating on " the wonderful new machine 
which can remove dung without anyone having to handle it ". 

The hero of The Coolie is Munoo, a w^ll-meaning lad like 
Bakha ; Munoo works as a servant to a Babu, later as a work- 
man in a pickle factory ; the whirl of destiny shifts Munoo 
from one position to another, from one place to another, and 
he works successively as a porter, as a circus boy, as a labourer 
in a Bombay cotton mill, and, lastly, as a manservant of all 
sorts to a Mrs. Mainwaring. Munoo is exhausted in the end, 
and dies of tuberculosis.^ 

The Coolie is a pageant but it is a pageant that Jiurni- 
liates^ us ; comradeship is an unknown thing in our super- 
sophisticated world ; 'tis the poor alone that 'elp the poor. 
The India depicted in The Coolie is a dismal, superficial, terri- 


fying India, the India that the Western impact on the Orient 
has laboured to evolve. The life of labourers within and with- 
out our factories, the unspeakable squalor of one-roomed tene- 
ments, the spectacle of men and women sleeping on the pave- 
ments of a Bombay street, the tragedy of Hindu-Muslim differ- 
ences, something of all this is vigorously portrayed by Anand. 
The Coolie is not a happy book to read ; but, then, it has 
only assumed the colour of its theme, and the theme is India, 
a segment of the real India, the India that is so sordid at one 
end and so human at the other ! 

In The Village, Anand takes us to a Sikh village ; and 
Lalu Singh, the youngest of a farmer's sons, is the hero of 
the novel. Like Bakha and Munoo, Lalu too is caught in a net 
of circumstances which seeks to entangle his spirit and destroy 
his Jxxiy. Landlord and savkm, sarkar and superstition- 
ridden society, all seem to conspire against Lalu Singh; he 
at once loves and hates his village ; he is jrerplexed and most 
ill at ease. He solves his personal problem by enlisting and 
sailing for the war. 

Acfoss the Black Waters is a continuation of The Village ; 
Lalu Singh is in Europe, participating in World War I ; 
Messines and Festubert figure much in the pages of the novel ; 
and Lalu and Kirpu and Latchman Singh are all portrayed 
with candour and perfect understanding. 


Other novelists too have ere now handled Anand's themes ; 
but they have generally treated the coolie sfad the untouchable 
as political and sociological problems. But Anand treats them 
rather as human beings, none the less human for being poor, 
superstitious, self-divided, indeed very human in spite of their 
daily misery and their thwarted purposings. Bakha and 
Munoo and Lalu, like Shanker Ram's Velan and Cholan, are 


nakedly and convincingly drawn ; they belong to the real India, 
the India that for all her age-long aches could never die. 

In his stories and novels, Anand tirelessly reiterates the 
changes that are imperceptibly altering the very fabric of Indian 
society and leading to a reorganization or who can tell? a 
wholesale disaster. Families are breaking up, villages are getting 
depopulated, exploitation is assuming new shapes and putting 
on new garments, and the poverty of the Indian masses is 
bottomlessly deepening. 

And Anand Dr. Mulk Raj ^Anand, the Leftist is angry, 
he is very angry ; bat he is enough of an artist to save his 
excellent novels from the stigma of mere propaganda. And 
hence his characters at any rate, his Indian characters are 
almost as a rule recognizably human beings, not automata or 
formulae ; and his portrayal of the Indian scene is distingui- 
shed, when considered as a whole, by a fundamental and dis- 
arming veracity. 



Karaka is a name familiar to many of us ; a journalist, 
a broadcaster, a commentator, a novelist, Mr. D. F. Karaka 
is indeed a figure of some importance in present-day India. 
He has lived freely and fully in India and in Britain ; and 
he talks and writes "like the proverbial turned-on tap, Hejwas 
sometime President of the Oxford s Union,..the first Indian to 
"occupy the position ; and his first book, The Pulse of Oxford, 
"seeks to give an unconventional account of his reactions to 
T3xford. It appears that Mr. Karaka had "three lamentable 
failures in my Bar Finals and one at the Indian Civil Ser- 


vice"; it was, perhaps, just as well that it was so, for, while 
India has lost yet one more Barrister or Civilian, she has gained 
a Karaka instead, a something that is a welcome change from 
the general run of " England-returned " tragi-comedies of sophi- 

Karaka put into his next two books Oh I You English 
and / Go West his English experiences. The former is a loud 
and rather pointless indictment of Western, and especially Bri- 
tish, civilization ; one sometimes has the feeling that Don 
Quixote is tilting at the windmills. But it is racily written and 
no doubt Karaka enjoyed writing it. / Go West is partly remi- 
niscential, partly a confession of faith ; reading it one feels 
that now Karaka has one foot on Britain and another on India ; 
Lloyd George and Simon as well as Gandhiji and Jawaharlal 
figure in its pages ; and it is, on the whole, a serious and sober 
book closing with the peroration : 

"That is the vision which we dreamers see the vision 
of a dark, free India, where those who are white will come 
as friends by courtesy and not as^despots by force. All other 
visions are mere illusions. Only thife we want to see. Only 
this must our children see, for they will be like us, born 

Returning to India, Karaka promptly entered the journa- 
listic fray and he has been regularly contributing to the Bombay 
Chronicle, During the past few years, he has published a 
biography of Mahatma Gandhi entitled Out oj Dust, two novels 
Just Flesh and There Lay the City and an account of his 
Chinese experiences, Chungking Diary. Karaka's admirers are 
still in doubt whether he lives only to write or writes only to 
be able to live or, perhaps, to Mr. Karaka, there is no essential 
difference between the two propositions ! 

Be that as it may, Karaka is an indefatigable writer 
Whatever the occasion, whatever the theme and he writes 


"right on" and wields the English language with a nervous 
and easy freedom that is truly astonishing. It is true that, 
in spite of all his talents and his experience as a writer, he has 
not yet given us one really first-rate book. His very versa- 
tility as^a quick-change artist has apparently stood in the way 
of his doing anything indubitably creative. A journalist even 
a journalist in excelsis like a Gunther or a Karaka necessarily 
lives in the present ; but the creative artist is rather required 
to seize by inward vision the undying, eternal, even transcen- 
dent elements in human nature and set them against the back- 
ground of changing, Jmffling, inexorable to-day. 

It is not that Karaka cannot rise to the height of stern 
creative endeavour ; but he is always too much in a hurry ; 
he turns out books biography or autobiography or fiction or 
what you will with the careless speed and ease with which 
he dashes off a half-column article for the Bombay Chronicle. 
No wonder that even his novels read like competent journalism 
racy, witty, occasionally satirical, sometimes flippant and 
boisterous, and anyhow breathlessly interesting. 


Just Flesh is a novel of English life set in, the England 
of the uncertain nineteen thirties. Karaka's intimacy with 
English life has stood him here in good stead. Like his 
Geoffrey Purrant, Karaka has himself been President of the 
Oxford Union ; he has sufficient familiarity with country houses, 
art studios, theatres and the topography of London and its 
environs. Easily and naturally 1 , therefore, Karaka has been 
able to evoke the atmosphere of English life and to reproduce 
some of its more obvious currents. 

While the background of Just Flesh is thus adequate and 
credjble, the characters themselves are not as convincing. As 
a human story, Just Flesh suffers on account of its author's 


excessive pre-occupation with ideas. The axes he wishes to 
grind are palpable and they distract our attention from the 
human drama. The ideological clash between two generations 
is an intriguingly human theme and it has been successfully 
exploited by, among others, Turgeniev in his Fathers qpd Sons 
and Samuel Butler in his satirical novel, The Way of all Flesh. 
But in fust Flesh, the issue between Ronald Sommerville, the 
capitalist, and his son, John, seems to be unreal and occasion 
ally even farcical. After all, the Conservative Prime Minister, 
Stanley Baldwin, had a son who turned Socialist and entered 
the House of Commons ; and Earl Baldwin and his Socialist 
son remained! on the friendliest terms. As a class the Ronalds 
are not tyrants and the Johns are not idealists ; they are, not 
only " Just Flesh ", but also " Just English ". 

'* There is, no doubt, an unbridgeable distance between father 
and som even under the best circumstances as is suggested, 
for instance, by Edmund Gosse in Father and Son or by C. E. 
Montague in Rough Justice. On the other hand, in Just Flesh, 
father and son merely strike melodramatic or heroic poses 
which they are unable to sustain for more than two consecutive 
minutes ; their speeches are often merely hysterical, and they 
at last dwindle into mere formulas. 

Karaka's second novel, There Lay the City, is located in 
Bombay and is as irresistible a yarn as its predecessor. And 
yet it is a disappointing novel. The blurb rightly points out 
that \There Lay the City " is not a novel of interwoven plots. 
It might just as well have been a memoir or a personal diary "; 
but it is unsatisfactory even as a memoir or a diary. The scenes 
are laid in Bombay; of course, and we catch now and then 
whiffs of Indian smoke and seem to tread familiar ground ; 
but the characters and incidents alike sound unreal, we find 
it a trying business to take Judy and her lover seriously, and 


we can hardly believe in the Goan physician and Sir Udul 
Boice and the other queer fish Karaka has effortlessly landed. 

There Lay the City has nevertheless one great merit it 
vividly suggests something of the poignancy and tragedy of 
Hitlers War. The book is full of it ; and it casts almost a 
deathly pallor over the whole prospect. Sir Udul Boice" A 
Churchill in the office, he was a Chamberlain at home" is 
driven by it to suicide ; and death and mutilation and suffering 
are the unescapable refrains in the book. Love lifts its head 
palely, but it is stifled ere it could dedicate its full beauty to 
the sun ; and we too feel like telling ourselves, " And near 
my heart I felt a pain, but I think it was just the lead moving 
again " ! 

Neither fust Flesh nor There Lay the City has 'form* 
or concord of parts ; in neither has Karaka achieved a success 
as great as is his capacity ; but they are both very readable 
novels. Karaka can always tell an interesting story ; he can 
write with facility and at times even with cha*m ; he can evoke 
scenes vividly and sketch the j>hysiognomy of persons memo- 
rably ; and he has a wide-awake contemporary consciousness. 
Many a great novelist has started his career with fewer quali- 
fications. All that Karaka lacks is spiritual depth ; he should 
learn to relate the immediate present with dead yesterday and 
un-born tomorrow ; he should delve deeper into humanity, 
its eternal values an$ perpetual -problems, and learn to portray 
these in his novels. f With more earnestness, less hurry, more 
reticence, less outspokenness, Mr. Karaka may yet become one 
of our great creative artists and not merely a clever and bril- 
liant journalist that he is at present ) 

In his explanatory Foreword to his novel, Kanthapura, 
Mr. Raja Rao confesses that the " telling has not been easy"; 


the whole story is put into the mouth of an old woman of 
the village who is supposed to tell it " of an evening, when as the 
dusk falls, and through the sudden quiet ... a grandmother 
might have told you, new-comer, the sad tale of her village". 
The technique is thus Conradian- the grandmother here taking 
the place of Marlow while the theme is the response of Kantha- 
pura, a village in Mysore, "to" the challenge "of " Hahatma 
GanafiTs militant programme of satyagfaha and ~Ct?iT 31s"- 
obeclience. . . --- 

Raja Rao's is thus an ambitious theme and his technique 
is as old as the Rcmayana and the Mahabharata and as 
modern as Conrad and Joyce. The principal difficulty, how- 
ever, is the problem of language. Raja Rao candidly faces 
the question: 

t % "One has to convey in a language that is not one's 
own the spirit that is one's own. One has, to convey the 
various shades and omissions of a certain thought-movement 
that looks maltreated in an alien language. Jjuse ; the word 
'alien', yet English is not really an alien language to^ us. 
ft is the language of our intellectual make-uplike Sanskrit 
or Persianjwas before, but not of our emotional make-up7 
We are all instinctively bi-lingual, many of us writing in 
our own language and in English. We cannot write like 
the English. We should not. We cannot write only as 
Indians. We have grown to* look at the large world as part 
of us. Our method of expression therefore has to be a dialect 
which will some day prove to be as distinctive and colourful 
as the Irish or the American. Time alone will justify it ". 

Raja Rao himself is apparently quite at home in the Eng- 
lishjteuty^em^ comes to us .wft&Jtbe 

murmur j>f familiarity and tenderness. Kantbapura is real, 
ffs~ Inhabitants are real,, and most of the episodes ring true ; 


Kanthapura is vivified as a significant microcosm that infers 
and contains within itself the potent currents and cross-currents 
that shake the vast sub-continent that is India. 

The grand-mother like all grandmothete is a colourful 
story-teller. She narrates, she looks before and after, she sighs, 
she philosophizes, she waxes poetic, she wanes, and anyhow 
she has the ear of the audience. The story-telling, looked at 
close quarters, is but a disarming convention ; no grandmother 
could have actually told Kanthapura all of it at one stretch 
to a new-comer ; neither could a Marlow have told the whole 
of Lord Jim to the idlers around him nor could Lava and 
Kusa have recited the whole of Ramayana at one sitting to 
a court gathering. It is an old and useful convention ; and 
Raja Rao exploits its possibilities to the full. 

As in Venkataramani's Kandan the Patriot, in Kantha- 
pura also the hero is Bharatavarsha ; and even Rama and 
Bharata or Gandhi and Jawaharlal are but powers and person- 
alities assumed by Bharatamata to make herself real and 
radiantly visible to the four hundred millions that live in the 
seven lakhs of Kanthapuras that constitute her potent and life- 
giving nerve-cells. J/t is to Raja Rao's credit that he has^ not 
made his novel mere propaganda ; it is full of Gandhian poli- 
ticsbut it remains a creative work of fiction, even a work of 
prose art. 

Raja Rao's descriptions are sometimes poetical in their 
vividness and colourful particularity. We can here give only 
a single quotation: 

"Kartik has come to Kanthapura, sisters Kartik has 
come with the gjow of lights and the unpressed footsteps of 
the wandering gods ; white lights from clay-trays and red 
lights froim copper-stands, and diamond-lights that glow 
from the bowers of entrance-leaves ; lights that glow from 
banana-trunk and mango twigs, yellow light behind white 


leaves, and green light behind yellow leaves, and white 

light behind green leaves; and night curls through the 

shadowed streets, and hissing over bellied boulders and hur- 

rying through dallying drains, night curls through the 

Brahmin Street and the Paria Street and the Potters 1 Street 

and the Weavers' Street and flapping through the mango 

grove, hangs clawed for one moment to the giant pipal, and 

then shooting across the broken fields, dies quietly into the 

river and gods walk by lighted streets, blue gods and quiet 

gpds and bright-eyed gods, and even as they walk in trans- 

parent flesh the dust gently sinks back to the earth, and 

many a child in Kanthapura sits late into the night to see 

the crown of this god and that god, and' how many a god 

has chariots with steeds white as foam and queens so bright 

that the eyes shut themselves in fear lest they be blinded . . " 

Joyce and Gertrude Stein, Eliot and Llewelyn Powys, all seem 

to have given of their best to make the music of this Song of 

Kartik ; and, indeed, the evocation of nightfall in Kanthapura 

is almost as vibrant with nervous potency, though not as un- 

pleasantly disturbing, as is the evocation of evening in Eliot's 

Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. 

Karaka has a bag-full of axes to grind ; Raja Rao too has 
his own axes, but he grinds them, as it were, only behind the 
curtain ; but Mr. R. K. Narayanuhas hardly any axes to grind. 
As a story-teller, Narayan is at his best when he deals with 
the surface peculiarities of sophisticated South Indian life. The 
Anglicized Indian is his peculiar province. An interesting and 
often a pathetic creature, the Anglicized Indian restlessly 
hovers between two worlds, "one dead, the other powerless 
to be bom"; in professor Radhakrishnan's wprds^Jiis voice 
" is an echo, his life a quotation, his soul a brain and his free 


spirit j^daveJqJhinssL*'. He is a stranger in his own country, 
he is a self-divided and often a futilely anguished creature ; 
he is a part of the tragedy of unredeemed India. 

Narayan knows this interesting creature through and 
through and can portray him interestingly with just a delicate 
tinge of irony the irony, like salt, introduced merely to 
impart savour to the delectable dish. When, however, Nara- 
yan goes out of his range, when, for instance, he attempts 
to plumb the elusive and ineluctable depths of tragedy or to 
sound the obscure significances of the seemingly humdrum lives 
of the sons of the soil, then is he flat and unconvincing, his touch 
is unsure, and the resulting picture unpleasing or puzzling. 

Narayan's first novel Swami and Friends, is an Indianised 
version of Richmal Crompton's " William " yarns. Swami and 
his friends are credible young things, clever, serious, naughty, 
boisterous, in a word, wholly and admirably boyish. The slim, 
slight book does make the world of Indian school-boys live 
agreeably and vividly. It has also been published in a Tamil 
version and has delighted several hundreds of juvenile and 
adult readers. 

Narayan's next novel, The Bachelor of Arts, is a more 
mature work and invokes a variegated chain of character and 
incident. College life in South India is sketched competently, 
though with a touch of caricature here and there. The Euro- 
pean Principal, the different Professors (and especially, alas ! 
the Professor of English), the debaters and the enthusiasts, 
all of them do what Narayan* wants them to do and let this 
be readily conceded what they generally do in actual life. 

When, however, our hero turns a Sadhu all of a sudden, 
one is incredulous and starts asking all sorts of questions. The 
bogus Sadhu is~a fantastic bit to swallow ; Narayan has ven- 
tured out of his familiar rounds and the result is not very 
satisfactory. But, of course, one need not make much of it 


ihe novel is in any case quite a creditable performance, " one 
)f those rare books ", to quote Mr. Graham Greene, " one can 
recommend unreservedly to every class of reader". 

In his third novel, The Dark Room, Narayan attempts 
to portray the cross-currents in a middle-class South Indian 
tiome. The touches are few, but they are carefully executed ; 
and the picture itself is a little triumph as a life-likeness and 
also as a work of art. The domineering husband, blowing hot 
and cold by turns ; Savitri, the devoted wife ; their children, 
two girls and a boy ; the domestic servants : these are familiar 
enough types. Shanta Bai, an " ex-wife " turned insurance can- 
vasser, is a piece of foreign matter projected into Savitri's 
familiar, unhurried universe. The husband is bewitched by 
Shanta Bai's languorous ease and glamorous dolour and neg- 
lects Savitri in consequence. 

We have thus the usual triangular tangle, and inevitably 
there is an explosion in Savitri's home ; but the man is impeni- 
tent. Savitri comes to a brave decision and leaves her home 
at night, rather like Nora in Ibsen's play, A Dolts House. 
However, unlike Nora, but, then, Ibsen has not told us what 
happens to Nora afterwards ! Savitri returns to her husband, 
having pathetically tried in vain to stand on her own feet. She 
accepts the new situation with resignation and her life pursues 
its even course with scarce a perceptible tremor ! 

Savitri in the role of an Inflian Nora is rather unconvinc- 
ing. But the portraiture of her " Doll's House " is excellent. 
The description of Navaratri and of the visit to the Tamil 
picture, Kuchela, are full of understanding or unmalicious 
satire. The Western impact and the Indian reaction to it are 
ever so insinuatingly suggested! ; and it is this background 
that gives the story its peculiar flavour. 


After The Dark Room, Narayan has not published any 
more full-length novels ; but his short stories are appearing 
in the columns of the Hindu and in his own Quarterly Journal, 
Indian Thought^ Two collections of these short stories Mtf( : 
gudi Days and Dodu and Other Stories, have so far come out 
arid they doubtless reveal the hand of a delicate jutist 

As a short story writer, Narayan knows how to restrain 
himself from saying a word too much ; a simple, single idea 
or situation is all he cares to concentrate upon -and he writes 
directly and clearly. There are no Jxx>by traps in Narayan's 
stories ; they just come in a careless wave, and it is soon over, 
and the placid waters of life roll heedlessly again. The " Talka- 
tive Man " stories are rattlingly told ; but even the " Talkative 
Man " knows the value of reticence. 

Narayan is no angular Modernist ; he does not delight in 
ciphers and complexes and conundrums ; he just tells simple 
moving stories in a simple and convincing style. "Gandhi's 
Appeal *', for instance, is a very simple story : hus- 
band and wife happen to attend a public meeting ; 
Mahatma Gandhi makes a fervent appeal for funds 
for the Harijan cause ; the wife surrenders her jewels, the 
husband gives away a fifty-rupee note. But Narayan makes a 
beautiful story out of this by no means uncommon occurrence ; 
and it is neither propaganda nor special pleading ; it is just 
a sensitively rendered human story ! 

Narayan has his limitations ; his little bit of ivory is, 
perhaps, more than two inches wide ; but it is a little bit all 
the same. He is comfortable only on the familiar levels and 
slopes of sophisticated life ; the depths and the heights are 
alike not for him. Neither can he plan a novel on a big 
scale at any rate he has so far not done so ; the human 
41 soul "the favourite theme of the great Russian novelists 
will riot yield its secrets, its fires and its perturbations and 


its darkling currents, to Narayan. But it is all beside the 
point ; Narayan is a consummate artist and he is a master on 
I^OTO" chosen ground. Why then complain that he is not 
something else ? 



LikeJNarayan, Kumara Guru (C. Subramania Ayyar) also 
finds irt the Western impact on our ancient Indian culture 
a fruitful field for his fictional studies which are collected in 
the two unusual books, Life's Shadows and A Daughter's 
Shadow. As Professor Radhakrishmm points .opt jn his Fore- 
word^to the former, "these stories of India in transition are 
It mild protest against the Westernization of the soul of India 
that is now in process"'. 

There are five stories in all in the two volumes of Life's 
Shadows Brother ; Wife ; Son ; Friend ; Daughter. Kumara 
Guru has discovered an interesting technique of his own and 
Jhis stories are not stories merely but an extraordinary blend 
of psychological study, social criticism, and special pleading. 
Narration, recapitulation, letters, diaries, dialogue, philosophiz- 
ing, sermonizing, all are seemingly thrown helter-skelter into 
~the mould of these stories ; but they somehow, anyhow, fuse 
into organic and artistic wholes ; in Mr. Forster's expressive 
word, they "bounce " the reader, and that is all that matters ! 

Before the advent of the British, the South Indian Brahmin 
lived he had to live a life of plain living and high thinking, 
scorning delights and living laborious days. English education 
diverted many Brahmins from their age-long habits and they 
ventured into the world as champion gold-diggers. Families 


were broken up, personality was cleft in twain by the conflict- 
ing claims of the old civilization and the new, and minor and 
major domestic tragedies came to be enacted in Hindu house- 
holds. Brother understood brother no more, nor wife her 
husband, nor son or daughter their father or mother, nor friend 
his bosom companion of former days. 

The changes, came about slowly, imperceptibly, but they 
were there, looming immense in the end and refining humanity 
and kinship and generous understanding wholly out of existence. 
Brother quarrelled with brother and drifted apart ; so did 
wife, so did son, so did daughter, so did friend, But although 
they were physically separated and spiritually divided, memory 
played its own dubious tricks off and on ; brother or wife 
or son or daughter or friend cast from time to time his or her 
disturbing shadow across one's solitary path ; memories bred 
regrets, regrets swelled to jesentments ; and there were bursts 
of recrimination or half-hearted attempts at reconciliation. But 
somehow the mental barrier persisted and remained insur- 
mountable till the disturbing element was safely cremated and 
reduced to ashes and dissolved in the holy waters of a river I 
It was a terrible tragedy, all the more terrible because there 
seemed to be no way of checking it. 

jThis is the situation that Kumara Guru portrays in his 
various stories. They are of absorbing interest ; they are, in- 
deed, part and parcel of us ; and hence Mr. Hilton Brown 
is perfectly justified in describing these stories as " something 
more than short stories ; they^are illustrations or examples of 
a central and unifying philosophy. They are theses springing 
from deep thought and dose observation. If they are in 
essence tragic, they are necessarily so as coming from one who 
recognizes an ideal, and at the same time laments its impossi- 
bility". ~ 


And yet, deep in his heart of hearts, every Brahmin, every 
Hindu, every Indian believes that this new civilization that has 
all but overwhelmed him is no good at all, that it has but led 
to a debasing of our spiritual values, that it has blessed neither 
the giver nor the receiver. As Kumara Guru says, "the old 
order has crumbled, but has not changed, yielding place to 
the new, and that is the real trouble with the sons and daugh- 
ters of India". The putrescent additions to Indian culture 
must no doubt be removed, but its soul itself should not be 
tampered with ; and this worshipping of the false gods of 
the occidental market place has changed this land of Rishis 
into a spiritual Waste Land and we should wake up before 
it is too late ! 

- JCumara Guru's interesting psychological studies constitute 
an. important tract for the times. They are good stories and 
convincing human documents ; they embody a philosophy of 
life and they unerringly hit the bull's-eye in our all too sensitive 
hearts ; and we can never have too many of these palpitating 
renderings of "Life's Shadows". 


J^ r -J?- ^^ l ^)^A^^ lawar House is conceived in the 
manner of a Forsyte Saga or Buddenbrooks and it does give 
an enduring picture of a Maratha Brahmin family living in 
South India. The book covers a period ofjif teen .years and 
sketches the many cHanges that have taken place during these 

^restless post-war years^ 

Gopinath* the head of the Athawar House, is lovingly 
delineated ; he is a chip of the old block, masterful, kindly, 
tactful. With Gopinath are grouped the many other members 
of the Chudamani family. We follow the endless discussions 

-in the family ; things are freely talked out, but Gopinath has 
invariably his way in the end ; the family shows cracks here 


and there, but it persists nevertheless. The novel ends with 
Gopinath's death and the marriage of Sona, Gopinath's niece, 
to Venkataramani, Anantarama Iyer's son. The momentous 
un-orthodox marriage of a Maratha Brahmin girl to a Tamil 
Smartha Brahmin is an accomplished fact ! The old order 
changeth ; and progress in a fact. And, meanwhile, old Gopi- 
nath, symbolizing the old and the gold, lies dying; Athawar 
House " will have a new head ; but not such another, not such 
another " ! 

Dewan Sharar^s novel, The Gong of Shiva, is another well- 
plarine9T welTexecuted, and wholly Indian novel. Kamini is 
given in marriage by her father, the rich banker Shivram Das, 
to Ram Nath. Kamini, however, is in love with Brij Lai. 
When her cruel husband meets his death at the hands of her 
brother, Subh, she seeks the protection of her lover, Brij Lai. 
Meanwhile, Subh is sentenced to a term of four years' impri- 
sonment. His lover, Shanta, is forced to marry Kali Charan ; 
when the latter dies, Shanta is free to marry Subh. But ortho- 
doxy and an inexplicable barrier stand in the way. Dewan 
Sharar's story is told with speed and leaves a lasting impres- 
sion on the reader's mind. 

Mr. A. jS. P. Ayyar, a District and Sessions Judge, is 
also a voluminous writer. He has published two historical 
novels Baladitya : a Historical Romance of Ancient India and 
Three Men of Destiny and many collections of short stories 
like The Finger of Destiny and Other Stories, Indian After- 
Dinner Stories and Sense in Sex and Other Stories of Indian 
Women. These collections bring^ conveniently together tradi- 
tional IndSSTsfories Jr^ni various sourceSr-Hindu^ .Jaina and 
Kddjiistic. Their aim is, according to the compiler himself, 
"to provide some healthy laughter, and, at the same time, 
to shake off some of our deep-rooted prejudices by exhibiting 
them in their comic aspect ". 


In his historical novels, Ayyar's aim is the laudable one 
of popularizing the heroes of ancient India. He deplores the 
fact that "so few novels exist about this period of India's 
history, that the descendents of the ancient Hindus find it very 
difficult to visualize the outstanding events and personalities 
of old". Accordingly, Ayyar draws full-length portraits of 
Alexander, Chandragupta, and Chanakya in Three Men of 
Destiny and of Baladitya and Yasodharma in Bdaditya, We 
have also a multitude of minor characters, most of whom are 
fictional ; but all contribute to the story-interest of the two 

Ayyar is a diligent^ student of Indian history and is well 
verseSln Sanskrit literature ; he is, moreover, a master of plain, 
straight-forward, English prose. He has managed to transport 
himself to ancient India and has familiarized himself with 
the men and affairs of those distant times. Ayyar is thus 
ideally equipped to attempt historical novels relating to the 
Hindu period. 

Perhaps, Ayyar's novels are too overloaded with detail ; 
they are now and then quite a strain on the reader's patience ; 
but both the novels are creditable achievements in a genre 
which the Indo-Anglians will do well to cultivate more frequent- 
ly. Indian history and social life in India are inexhaustible 
topics and if our Indo-Anglians tackle them sympathetically 
and veraciously, they will certainly place us under their debt 
and make positive contributions to English literature. 


Mr. K. Ahmed Abbas's Tomorrow is Ours is a sensitive 
^ with real people ; MrVhmed 

Ali's TtoiKgfi^ _Ddhi is a finely drawn picture of Muslin^ 
life in twentieth-century Delhi ; Mr. 


Vedmtam : the Clash of Traditions deals with South Indian 
life while the Hon. Malik Sir Firoz Khan Noon's Scented Dust 
portrays life in the Punjab ; Sita Chatterjee and SantajCha- 
terjeejiave given us, severally or jointly, The Cage of Gold, 
The Eternal and The Garden Creeper, all conscientiously writ- 
ten and worth reading ; Sir Hari Singh Gourds His Only Love 
deals with the unfortunate results of the so-called " emanci- 
pation " of Indian women ; Muhammad^ EfekiKs The Dese- 
crated Bones { and Other Stories is a collection of three gripping 
stories of suuernatural or historical interest ; and J^Subrama; 
niam's Indira Devi is an extravagant tirade against "inter- 
raciaT marriages, inter-dinners, a common religion, a common 
script, and everything else under the moon and sun which some 
day-dreamer dreams and propounds". 

Dhan C^pa^Mukerji is the highly talented author of a 
number of popular stories Kari the Elephant, Gay-Neck, Ghond 
the Hunter, My Brother's Face, The Chief of the Herd, etc. 
which are all exceedingly well-written and are favourites with 
school-children. M\y Brother's Face is, in some respects, the 
most characteristic of them, for it is partly an autobiographical 
testament. Dhan Gopal Mukerji is an adept at portraying 
Indian village life no less than the life of man and beast in 
the wilds and jungles of tropical India. He is veritably the 
Indo-Anglian Kipling and, indeed, in some respects, more 
satisfying than Kipling. 

, a District Magistrate in the South, 
has written a clever detective novel, Bombay Murder, which 
incidentally throws some light on the ultra-fashionable life 
lived by people in luxurious Bombay flats. He has also publi- 
shed a book of short stories entitled, The Cobras of Dharma- 
shevi. His brother, the late G^.jChettur, published in The 
Ghost City a collection of ten entertaining short stories. Some 


of the stories are satirical commentaries on astrology, sooth- 
saying, hypnotism and auto-suggestion' ; some others have a 
touch and are very enjoyable indeed. 

Mrs. Ramabai Trikannad's Victory of Faith and Other 
Sftw^riTVc^ecHorf of eight very promising and creditable 
pieces. One of the stories, Ratna, is nearly as long as the other 
seven put together ; it is a simple tale of romance and idealism 
and service to the poor* The title-story is meant to illustrate 
the truth that Faith can lift mountains. Ramabai's technique 
is naiye^ and her language is simple and effective : and her 
stories are " fresh, chaste and healthy ". 

J^.J\^ieri_Is^aran > s.Ar^d Shingles is a collection of 
ten short stories ; he tells his stories with a ^trembling sensibility 
that leaves an indelible impress on the reader's mind. Naked 
Shingles and The War Memorial are pure gold ; Jowramma is 
a delicate character-study ; and all the other stories are the 
serious attempts of a true artist to convey his impressions 01 
to communicate his intuitions. 

While many good I ndo- Anglian novels and many more 
short stories have already demonstrated the feasibility of 
Indians writing English fiction, it is nevertheless true that the 
unique Jntricacies of social life and the untranslatable nuances 
of conversational speech are better rendered through the medi- 
um of one's own mother-tongue. It is therefore certain that much 
of the creative work in fiction in the India of the future will 
be only done in the vernacujare ; but good pnglish novels and 
short stories too will continue to appear, either as translations 
or as original works. 




Since the time of Raja Rammohan Roy, the Indo-Anglians 
have been essayists of a sort ; at any rate, many of them have 
been compelled to wiekfthe instrument ~5f English prose as 
a vehicle for the communication of ideas or for purposes of 

But the lighter, more or less personal type of essay, a 
rarity anywhere, has but occasionally been attempted by the 
Indo-Anglians ; and the successes in this genre have been few 
and far between. There was anJjjS^ Bose who published a 
volume entitled Humorous Sketches in Allahabad nearly forty 
years ago ; Ra^nakrishnaJ^Jlai's Life in an Indian Village had 
appeared even earlier ; but their style is laboured and their 
humour thin. 

We have mentioned already ^gesh Wishwanath Pai's 
beautifully written Stray Sketches in Chakmakpore. The 
"sketches " are seemingly abstracted from " the Note-Book of 
of an Idle Citizen" and (to quote from the Preface) "are 
chiefly intended to amuse ..... The main idea has been to 
give pictures of Indian life, pure and simple". 

Pai is a facile "writer ; his humour is gentle, often un- 
obtrusive, and insinuates its fun into the reader's heart. Some- 
times humour makes a not incongruous alliance with wit and 
satire and there emerges as a result credible and enjoyable 
portraits like those of the zealous social reformer, the mother- 
in-law, the irritable sahib, the smart student and the street- 
hawker. Pai's pictures of the bullock, the crow, the cat, the 
Pariah dog, and his sympathetic portraits of the Hindu lady 
of the old school and of the fisher-folk, all are drenched in a 


sheer generosity of understanding that makes these essays ex- 
quisite slices of life. 

Like Pai, other Indo-Anglians also aJBehramji Malabari, 
a Venkataramani, have published sketches of inveterate 
humanity" la "the columns of faded old newspapers may be 
found innumerable attempts at the light essay, some good, 
a few very good ; but most of them really deserve thejoblivion 
that now comfortably covers them all. 


One of the best present-day practitioners of the art and 
easily the most successful of them all is S. V. V. aliasTor 
IS. V. yijiaraghayachari who has published a number of 
perennially delightful books, viz. Soap Bubbles, More Soap 
Babbles, The Holiday Trip, 'Much Daughtered, and Chaff and 
Grain. Of him Mr. Hilton Brown remarked in the course of 
an address before the East India Association : " There is a 
man in Madras called S. V. Vijiaraghavachari who is writ- 
ing the most delicious stuff light as a feather, satirically humor- 
ous, not untender, most intimately revealing of Hindu life ; 
splendid spiteful stuff which can bear direct comparison 
muMis mutandis, with the work of our own E. M. Delafield ". 

There .was a time when S. V. V. used to make his weekly 
bow to the readers of The Hindu with the unfaltering regularity 
and the unfailing fascination of " Y. Y." of The New Statesman 
and Nation. As a matter of convenience, we might suppose that 
S. V. V. has lived (so to put it) three distinct literary lives 
as an Indo-Anglian. In the first, he regularly contributed to 
the pages of the now defunct Everyman's, Review. " An 
Elephant's Creed lin Court", inl which S. V. V. gave an amus- 
ingly satirical account of the interminable disputes between the 
tengalais and vadagdcAs of South India, appeared over twenty 
years ago and perhaps S. V. V.' never did anything better ! 


Presently, sketches and skits, usually one column in length, 
began to appear in the Saturday Hindu. " Don't Meddle with 
Coffee", "Worry over Slippers", "In Search of a Son-in- 
law ", these were some of the skits published during this period. 
Light as the wind, uproariously gay, quotable, memorable, the 
" S. V. V." weekly dose of irresponsible wisdom, in which the 
experience of thousands of South Indians was held in animated 
suspension, became the most delectable of week-end dainties. 
Easy, charming, indulgent, generous ; now and then, a carica- 
turist's stroke ; and now and again, care-free bursts of good 
humour ; and never vulgar, never fantastic, never dull. This 
was the S. V. V. that became an institution in South India a 
very difficult job, since every Madrasee would fain think that 
he alone is the one institution worth preserving ! 

Years passed ; the Hindu Illustrated Weekly was " mudd- 
ling through " till at last it became, after diverting vicissitudes, 
the Sunday Illustrated Edition. During these years S. V. V.'s 
art deteriorated ; serials like The Holiday Trip were inflated 
trifles that "made one laugh, but also made one sigh that the 
buoyant charm of the earlier essays had somehow faded away. 
Even so, "The Geography of Madras" was good ; "Buttons" 
was very good ; "Dreams" was tremendous fun ; and "3sh. 
6d." was a riot of laughter. And yet one wished one was vouch- 
safed that earlier strain, the inimitable strains of "Don't 
Meddle with Coffee". 

S. V. V. writes in English no more ; but he now wields the 
Tamil language with a facility that he never commanded in 
English, and hence Tamil hearts are full of gratitude to him. 
It was, therefore, in the fitness of things that his admirers pre- 
sented him, three or four years ago, on the occasion of his 
sixty-first birthday, a public address under the presidency of 
the Rt. Hon. V. S. Srinivasa Sastri. 



Another essayist, almost as contagiously delightful as S. 
V. V., is MnRBa^aruswami^ Associate Editor of the My 
Magazine 'ofTndta. OaTS. V. V., Bangaruswami too started 
life as a mofussil lawyer ; and they both find inl the seeming 
inessentials of life a whole fund of meaning and humour. 

Scores of Bangaruswami's skits and essays have appeared 
in the columns of My Magazine, Merry Magazine, The Scholar, 
and other periodicals. Not only is Bangaruswami's control over 
the resources of the English language singularly competent, but 
his range as a humorist is exceptionally wide and he ever 
writes only to amuse and never to wound. Even as a social sati- 
rist, Bangaruswami's touch is very light and leaves no rancour 
behind ; humanity and a wide-awake sympathy are thus the 
sustaining key notes of his essays. Individual skits like " In 
Defence of Nonsense", "Touts", "Forensic Theatricalisin", 
" Bugs ", and " Pseudo-Philosophy " are all at once profound- 
ly wise and soaked in healthy gaiety. 

Bangaruswami's essays are in divers styles ; they are now 
gently and disarmingly humoroug like Robert Lynd's, now 
tantalizingly provoking like Stephen Leaoock's, now irresistibly 
and uproariously gay like P. G. Wodehouse's stories. He 
talks on and on, giving one no respite but overwhelming one 
in a cascade of laughter : 

" If I were a dictator f Surely I would prescribe 

crushing punishments for those who use harmoniums and 
gramophones and thereby corrupt the public taste ; for those 
hotel-keepers who invent fantastic names for familiar dishes ; 
for street-vendors and street-singers who pervert language 
and split words and mutilate them; for research workers 
who want twenty volumes to prove that man has generally 
two legs, that sugar can be said to taste sweet from the 


available evidence, that the Raman Effect in butter-milk is 
rather funny ; for those public bodies who read more than 
one address in every twenty years ; for those who mix more 
than three languages in the course of a single sentence . . . 
There would be a total reform in penal administration. All 
imprisonment in jails will go, root and branch. But they 
will be succeeded by severer punishments : being asked to 
support more than one family . . . being asked to repeat 
poetiy backwards ; being asked to sing the Pythagoras Theo- 
rem, proof, Q.E.D., and all 

Bangaruswami has also published many series of skits, 
Misleading Cases, The Law of the Jmgle, Unreported Confe- 
rences, Dummfs Fortnightly Diary, Balu and His Friends, 
Law and Life and My Domestics, In Misleading Cases 
Bangaruswami has tried with success to mirror albeit only 
with the use of a concave or convex mirror court life in the 
mofussil courts just as Mr. A. P. Herbert has done with asto- 
nishing ease with reference to English Common Law. The 
Law of the Jungle takes us to the jungle and its litigants, 
lawyers and judges ; here too the court proceedings are most 
lively and we realize presently that Bangaruswami is all the 
time laughing, not at the lions and foxes and bears and ele- 
phants, but actually at ourselves ! Many of these legal traves- 
ties have been put together and published with the title My 
Lord/Kukudoon Koon. 

( Unreported Conferences is a book of fantastic speeches 
and even 1 more fantastic resolutions; for all its hilarious exu- 
berance, the book is a pointed satire on the many meaningless 
and soulless conferences that it has now become a mania to 
hold in all sorts of places with all sorts of objectives. )Dumm?s 
Fortnightly Diary is as vivacious, as interesting, as full of 
wisdom and social criticism as is Delafield's Diary of a Provin- 


cial Lady. Balu, on the other hand, is a recognizable cousin 
of * William ', the popular creation of Miss Richmal Crompton's. 
Occasionally, one feels that Bangaruswami's humour is 
a little too broad or too loud ; but the general tone is ever one 
of unoffending urbanity and charm. 


Mr. K. Iswara Dutt, formerly of the Leader of Allahabad 
and now editor of the Twentieth Century, gave over ten years 
ago a small delightful packet of essays entitled, And All That. 
It contains ten very readable essays on subjects as various as 
" On a Razor ", " On the Pleasures of Unemployment ", " On 
the Parental Problem", "On a Tuft of Hair", "On Matri- 
monial Prescriptions", "In Praise of Lady Nicotine", "On 
Congress Paradoxes", and "On the Hobbies of Celebrities". 

An accomplished journalist, a " taster " of life who has 
rolled about the busy world a good deal, Iswara Dutt writes 
with confidence and ease. As Professor Radhakrishnan points 
out in his brief Foreword to the book, "These * skits' are 
written with a literary taste and lightness of touch that remind 
me of the essays of Robert Lynd". The essays are all com- 
mendably brief and are all full of worldly wisdom and wit 
and they uncannily spot out the ludicrous in men and affairs. 
Moreover, many of the essays are judiciously spiced with appro- 
priate quotations in prose and verse. Iswara Dutt is indeed 
a most agreeable companion to spend an hour with ! 

Rarely does Iswara Dutt falter at the exordium. Here is 
the beginning of the essay, " On a Razor " : 

" Time was when the razor was the barber's pride and 

monopoly but alas ! the times are out of joint for him. Now 

it is here, there and everywhere. Particularly the table of 

a modem gentleman is incomplete without a razor. It is 

as indislpensable to him as a walking stick, the obvious diffe- 


rence being that he keeps the one inside and carries the other 

As he begins, so he writes " straight on "; whether he discourses 
on a Tuft of Hair or on Congress Paradoxes, Iswara Dutt is 
a delightful talker. How unmalicious and enjoyable is this 
enumeration of " Congress Paradoxes " : 

"But, between ourselves, while the Congress persona- 
lities did not interest me less, the Congress paradoxes 
interested me more. Where else can one find politicians and 
statesmen surrendering to a saint and a sage in the realm 
of politics or dictatorship being enthroned in the name of 
democracy? Where else can one find men wedded to non- 
violence applauding the heroism of political assassins, revo- 
lutionaries coolly submitting to lathi charge courageously 
administered by police on unarmed crowds, and men of 
peace forming ' war councils ' and appointing ' dictators ' ? 
Where else, indeed, can one find khaddar-clad men coming 
out of Rolls Royces, women with bobbed hair singing songs 
of the charka, urban magnates lecturing on the possibilities of 
rural reconstruction and village rustics talking high politics, 
orators remaining tongue-tied and poor polls getting rid of 
gibberish, Upper India men eschewing English like poison 
and men from the South retaliating in their respective verna- 
culars ! Where else outside the Congress, I ask, can one 
'find responsible public men make suggestions seriously fixing 
the Viceroy's salary at six thousand rupees per annum and 
with an easy conscience put twenty-six thousand rupees in 
the Congress coffers, levied as a tax on visitors for a few in- 
different and some irrelevant speeches delivered in the course 
of the day at a meeting of the All-India Coiigress Com- 

Or, for a change, one can^turn to Mr. Iswara Dutt's 
defence of smoking or his discourse on the pleasures of un- 


employment or his dissertation on hobbies, and always he 
writes with candour and clarity and writes only to please his 
readers and in his own way to ennoble his subjects ! 


Our magazines and newspapers, and especially our educa- 
tional miscellanies with their undergraduate contributors, are 
all giving us essays of varying degrees of excellence. There are 
" third leaders" in papers like The Hindu, The Leader, The 
Amrita Bazar Patrika and The Hindustan Times that raise 
a smile and even compel a burst of healthy laughter. There 
are also columnists like Mr. D. F. Karaka of the Bombay 
Chronicle, the " Little Man " of the Bombay Sentinel and Mr. 
Pothan Joseph (who used to write under the title "Over 
a Cup of Tea"), who delicately graze the surface eccentricities 
and idiosyncracies of life and help thousands of readers to 
spend every day a refreshing five minutes or so. 

There are, again, occasions when a statesman like the Rt. 
Hon. V. S. Srinivasa Sastri or a Dewan like Sir T. Vijia- 
raghavachari or an active politician like Jawaharlal Nehru 
graciously unbends and shows that laughter is, after all, the 
badge of all the generations of Adam. No doubt, essays need 
not be necessarily of the ' lighter ' sort that makes one laugh. 
True sensibility is the hall-mark of the essayist, and hence he 
can be interested as much in the serious as in the more obvious- 
ly familiar and popular things. An essayist can legitimately 
muse on the ultimates of life just as he can skirmish amidst 
turnips and tomatoes and tea cups ; communicated sensibility 
is trje thing ! 

vX?An essay is not a treatise, but it may be serious ; an essay 
is not a resounding peroration, but it may be a thinking aloud 
or it may partake of the gentle murmur of a friendly conver- 
sation. ) Mahatma Gandhi's " Sermon on God " is rather a per- 


sonal revelation ; it is a spiritual curtain that envelops him 

andtfie reader, or the listener, into a little universe of felicity 
and self-knowledge. It is a singular revelation, it is an inspir- 
ing confession of faith ; but it is also a beautiful little speech, 
almost a perfect essay ! 

Again, some of Sir Nizamat Jung's " Casual Reflections " 
and " Morning Thoughts " also deserve to be called miniature 
essays. Sir Nizamat writes serenely and wisely on a variety 
of themes "*Life an Examination", "Resignation", "Seek- 
ing Refuge from Evil ", " Perpetual Change ", " Good and Bad 
Thoughts", 'The Unreality of this World", "The Dust of 
Life's Journey ", " Mind and Muscle ', and scores of others ; 
but these " Morning Thoughts ", elegant, personal, persuasive, 
trite, jotted down apparently without premeditation, come to 
us with a reassuring squeeze of one's hand. Here is a sample 
of Sir Nizamat's prose : 

"Look at Nature's face, and you look into her heart, 
and by looking into her heart you can reach God. You cannot 
see God except in his works, and His works are around you. 
They are Nature, and in Nature everything is good and 
beautiful. If you see anything that is not good and beauti- 
ful be sure it is your own blurred vision that makes it 
appear so ". 

VI v 

Sr^JBomanjLWadiaj the present Vice-Chancellor of the 
Bombay University, is a writer of chiselled prose and his occa- 
sional essays, even if they be professedly on literary or cultural 
themes, are more like confessions of faith than like attempts 
at cold or formal criticism or exegesis. He may be writing 
on " The Qualities of Great Literature " or on " The March 
of the Human Mind" or on "Literature in its Changing 
Moods", but the heightened sensibility of these contributions 


nakes them true essays. As a specimen of his light touch and 
utter -sincerity, we extract this passage from his charming little 
sssay on " Little Things that Matter " : 

"It is a gift to see ourselves as others see us ; but those 
who have got it are so few. The impression we produce on 
others is very different from that which we produce on our- 
selves. Our self-esteem often leads to an over-estimate. 
There are little civilities and acts of politeness in which 
we often lack, but we do not notice them ; our neighbours 


Happiness is a question of degree ; it depends on our 
wants and requirements. Its chief secret lies in not suffer- 
ing little things to give us the * black mood '. It is not the 
place nor the condition, but a man's own disposition that 
is accountable for much of his joy or misery. All of us 
have our handful of thorns to cope with. No one can escape 
them. But even thorns have roses, and the stars are hidden 
behind the darkest clouds". 
One more essayist must be named here Prof. F. Correia- 

r-x. - . > < - ~ -' 

Afonso. An important figure in the Indian Catholic world, 
Prof. Correia-Afonso is a close student of English, Latin and 
Portuguese, and is an exceptionally effective platform speaker. 
Platform speaking is with him an art and there can be few 
pleasures more exhilarating than hearing him at his best. In 
recent years, he has been exhorting his fellow-Catholics to 
" Indianize " themselves. Indian Catholics can be true Catho- 
lics and true Indians at the same time : this is the burden 
of Prof. Correia-Afonso's collection of luminous little essays 
suggestively entitled, Plain Living and Plain Thinking. 

The eleven essays included in the book range from " Gone 
West " and " Education in Simplicity " to " A Philosophy of 
Clothes " and " The condition of the Working Class ". Educa- 


tion, food and clothes, amusements, religion, the press, all 
are " embraced " as it were ; and Prof. Correia-Afonso's 
remarks, though primarily addressed to his Catholic country- 
men, are mutatis mutandis applicable no less to the Hindus 
and the Muslims and the Parsis and the rest. The impact 
of the West and the ready acceptance of Western civilization 
have reduced many an educated Indian into a pathetic misfit 
in his own country. These misguided Westernized men and 
women should retrace their steps else we perish ! 

Prof, Correia-Afonso's argument is thus an urgent one ; 
but he develops it with ease, with conviction, with omnipresent 
humour. It is a sermon still, but it is a sermon that sings itself 
into our ears and glides irresistibly into our hearts. We should 
be "national and rational"; "we must be Indian; but not 
all that is Indian is commendable "! As for dress reform, here 
too we should be " national and rational " : 

4< In the matter of rational and national dress, the pro- 
blem of our women is easily solved. They should wear the 
sari, as many are already doing. Not all, perhaps, have 
done it from national motives, but because they look pretty 
in them ; yet let it be counted unto them for righteousness. 
Father Hull bnce said that female fashions in Europe changed 
constantly, while they did not change in India, because the 
European woman was ever seeking for perfection in dress,, 
whereas the Indian woman has found it. JThe sari is indeed 
ji_thing of beauty .ajid^jpy^for^ever .... Every woman 
is a maharani by the dignity of her womanhood, but she 
need not dress like the Maharani of Cooch-Behar, when 
she is only the maharani of cooch nahin ". 

Indeed, as the Most Rev. Thomas Roberts has pointed out, 
Prof. Correia-Afonso can make Truth itself appear attractive ! 




When English became the medium of instruction in the 
Indian colleges and universities, it was inevitable that Indians 
should attempt literary criticism of one type or another in 
English. For one thing, annotated texts were required for 
the use of Indian students ; here was a ready market for swade- 
shi goods, and jenterprisinjg Indians, often indeed with more 
enthusiasm than scholarship or the necessary equipment, came 
forward to write to order notes, guides, summaries, text exami- 
ners, digests, and so forth. Of late, this particular business has 
assumed colossal proportions. 

Nearly fifty years ago, Ram Chandra Ghose published 
A Synopsis of English Literature; subsequently, innumerable 
books of like nature not seldom badly digested, badly con- 
ceived, badly written, and badly printedhave rolled out of 
Indian presses. It is needless to say more about this branch of 
book production in India ; its aipi is to make money if possible 
by feeding upon the average student's dread of University 

Now and then, however, an Amaranatha Jha or a ^ 

va Aiyar shows that the thing can be properly and efficiently 

"done. Amaranatha Jha's "Selections" from Frederick Harris- 

on and Modern English Poetry, Sadasiva Aiyar's Hamlet and 

The Tempest, T^JML Advan^s edition of Carlyle's Heroes and 

K. Sw^minathan's abridged Edition of Trevelyan's Macaulay 

are some of the splendid exceptions that help us to forget the 

puerilityj of the ^eraTnm of Indian editions of English class- 

1Cr~Tor the most part, these "fruits" of the misdirected eff- 

orts of Indo-Anglian pseudoscholarship live only for a year or 


two in the drawers or on, the tables of harassed undergraduates, 
and are soon remade into desirable pulp. 


The critical work attempted by the Indo-Anglians falls 
under two heads : the criticism of English authors and English 
classics and the criticism of Sanskrit and the various modern 
Indian literatures. We have had good examples of the latter 
kind for over fifty years. After all, Sanskrit was a virgin 
field and much had to be done and still remains to be done 
in describing and interpreting the treasures of Sanskrit litera- 
ture to the English-speaking world. j>ince English can claim, 
to be the language familiar to the intelligentsia all over India, 
it is and has been for the past five or six decades the obvious 
medium for the expression of literary criticism relating to 
Sanskrit literature. Even writers who wish to assess the contri- 
butions of a vernacular literature have sometimes preferred to 
write in English in view of its all-India appeal. 

It was thus that the late Romesh Chunder Dutt was inspir- 
ed to write in English his Literature of Bengal (1877) . More 
recently, JProf^Bbate has done his Modern Marathi Literature 
in English ; so have K. M. Munshi, Birinchi Kumar Barua and 
Annad^Shaakar Ray with reference to Gujarati, Assamese and 
Bengali literatures respectively. Similarly, Masti^ Venkatesa 
lyenger has given us an ^illuminating study of Valmiki's poetry ; 
Aurobindo's studies of Bankim Chandra and Kalidasa are also 
in English ; and AjL JP L Ayyaj^ Bhasa is written somewhat 
on the lines of the English Men of Letters Series. 

More frequently, critical studies on Sanskrit and vernacul- 
ar literatures, both ancient and modem, are appearing in 
popular English journals like The Modern Review, The Hin- 
dustan Review, Prabuddha Bharata f Triveni, The Aryan Path, 
The Indian P. E. N., and The Indian Review. Mr. _ Chalapa- 


' Subba Rau's Yenki Songs", Professor 
"Mr. Bendr^s poetry" and "The Vision of the Kannada Dra- 
matist'Cthe late D^M. T. Patwardhar^s "Modern Marathi 
Literature" and the late Ramananda Chatter jee's varied 
contributions to The Modern Review on Bengali literature come 
immediately to the present writer's mind ; of course, many more 
equally valuable articles may be discovered in the old files of 
the journals catalogued above. 


Another important branch of criticism also may be referred 
to in passing. Several Indo-Anglians have published meritori- 
ous studies of Art in general or of Indian Art, Indian Archi- 
tecture, Indian Music, etc. PrincipalJKyJM Khadyejs Bene- 
detto Crpce's Aesthetic Applied to Literary Criticism is a 
conscientious and illuminating essay that assesses Croce's work 
as a critic with convincing finality. While Croce is inspiring 
as a practical critic, he is of little help " as a formulator of 
an adequate theory of art which can be usefully applied to 
literature". J^r^ipal_KhadyeisL.very widely, read m literature,, ( 
his powers of_critical analysis are worthy of admiration, and 
he wields a clear, dry and an uncompromisingly outspoken and 
Affective prose style. 

Mr. Shahid Suhrawardy's Prefaces : Lectures on Art 
Subjects has 'alreaay 'been mentioned in an earlier chapter. 
Suhrawardy's subjects range from "On the Study of Indian 
Art ", " Art and Education ", and " A Nation's Art " to " The 
Modem European Stage" and "Some Continental Writers". 
Suhrawardy complains that the average modern Indian has 
no eye for Art : 

" The sources of Indian ait have completely dried. The 
grand tradition of our mediaeval sculpture, which knew how 
to inform stone with miraculous movements in order to por- 


tray the lives of gods involved in human relations, that 
splendid realization of the Indian ideal of god-man, unparal- 
leled in the world's art for plasticity and dramatism, has 
.been allowed to lapse into oblivion . . . Art study and art 
appreciation is banished from our lives". 
Suhrawardy would have present day India shed its insularity, 
because he firmly and rightly believes that a nation's art " can 
be vigorous and effective only when it has the courage to accept 
freely adaptable foreign influences, and is vital enough to assi- 
milate them to its own artistic needs ". 

Mr^B&i S. Mardhekar's Arts and Man, a brilliant, if not 
altogether convincing piece of criticism, outlines a new aesthe- 
tic, attempts " a new and a more scientific ascending and des- 
cending order of fine arts, at the top of which will be music 
and at the bottom, podry ". The " mighty " poets, who have 
all along " arrogated to themselves a prerogative, premier 
position on the Mount of Paranassus ", will have now to vacate 
their high seats, giving place to the supreme musician*. The 
poets " have been, directly or indirectly, responsible for so much 
of what has jritjated art appreciation and aesthetics and they 
can hardly complain if J^emesis overtakes them ". Mardhekar's 
more recent work, Two Lectures on an Aesthetic of Literature, 
is equally jproypcatiye_ and thoughtful. 

In his illuminating brochure, The National Value of Ari, 
Sri Aurobindo gives us a significant tract for the times. It is 
the testament of a seer and is uttered in prophetic accents. In 
the course of about fifty luminous pages, Sri Aurobindo memo- 
rably stresses the aesthetic, intellectual and spiritual aspects 
of art, in integral relation to the life of the nation. Only one 
quotation can be extracted here : 

"Poetry raises the emotions and gives each its separate 
delight. Art stills the emotions and teaches them the delight 
of a restrained and limited satisfaction, this indeed was 


the characteristic that the Greeks, a nation of artists far 
more artistic than poetic, tried to bring into their poetry. 
Music deepens the emotions and harmonizes them with each 
other. Between them, music, art and poetry are a perfect 
education for the soul ; they make and keep its movements 
purified, self-controlled, deep and harmonious. These, there- 
fore, are agents which cannot profitably be neglected by 
humanity on its onward march or degraded to the mere 
satisfaction of sensuous pleasures which will disintegrate 
rather than build character. They are, when properly used, 
great educating, edifying and civilizing forces". 

We have necessarily to be brief about the other Indo- 
Anglian art critics, and no more than a bare mention of the 
names of some of the prominent among them is feasible within 
the limits at our disposal. Mr. O^C. Gangoly and Mr. Aba- 
nindranath Tagore have both done yeomen service towards 
the interpretation of Indian Art. jAnanda Coomaraswamy's meri- 
torious publications include Rajput Painting, History of Indian 
and Indonesian Art and The Transformation of Nature in Art. 
Mn Dubash's Hindu Art in its Social Setting is an interesting 
bock to read ; MnJCj^n^^ in his An Approach 

to Art, and Prof. JBaldoon Dhingra, in his Genius and Artistic 
Enjoyment, have both made useful contributions to aesthetics ; 
and Dr. R. K.^Yajnik's The Indian Theatre is a very informa- 
tive book on a most absortring subject. Other Indo-Anglian 
art and music critics include Sam^janath Tagore, Gopinatha 
Rao, Pratima Devi, N. C. Mehta, Atiya Begum and C. Subra- 
tnairia Ayyar. 


Indo-Anglian criticism proper is the criticism of English 
authors and of English classics ; and here the odds are gene- 
rally against the aspiring Indo-Anglian critic. 


An Indian who wishes to pursue the apparently easy pro- 
fession of literary criticism soon finds that the business is 
not so easy as it appears to be. Our aspiring Indo-Anglian 
critic has first to form in his mind certain categories current 
in critical literature by a ^diligent _stud of good models from 
Aristotle and Horace to Arnold and T. S. Eliot ; only when 
this laborious process of assimilation is over, and this might 
take several years even for persons of sensitive memory, can 
the Indo-Anglian critic apply those categories to a given work 
or body of creative literature. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that under such conditions 
of composition much Indo-Anglian criticism turns out to be 
merely derivative, conventional or stale. Very rarely indeed 
do we come across passages of direct, strong and personal 
thinking. In England, serious literary criticism is done either 
by the Professors of English or by eminent reviewers like Des^ 
mond MacCartJiy, Virginia Woolf and Sir John Squire. In 
India, on the other hand, Professors of English almost as a 
rule lack both the facilities and the inclination to attempt 
serious literary criticism. There are professors who are con- 
tent or even proud to be mere electioneering strategists and 
zone dictators of pseudo-culture rather than conscientious 
scholars or teachers ; many are so wretchedly paid and are so 
overworked that they feel satisfied if they are able to do the 
routine work of teaching and examining without a hitch ; some 
are driven by sheer economic considerations to hack for some 
shark publisher, writing " notes " at, say, six annas per page ; 
and several more are merely and sublimely indolent and care 
not for the laurels and^perils^of authorship. 

Indeed, even those Professors of English who are obliged 
to do some sort of critical work before they obtain their Docto- 
rate degrees, more often than not relapse into somnolent 
inactivity afterwards. This is due to an understandable fed- 


ing of defeatism that the best they can do in the field is very 
likely to look insignificant by the side of the works of criticism 
that are being produced in the British and American univer- 
sities. And yet one fervently hopes that there will be less 
of this effeminate timidity and inaction in the future. 

As for free-lance critics of the type of Desmond MacCartny 
and Sir John Squire, our journalists are as a rule so very much 
preoccupied with politics that they can hardly cultivate the 
detachment of a literary critic. All-rounders like Nagendranath 
Gupta, Sachchidananda Sinha and Narasimha Chintaman Kel- 
Icar'Tiave given"us" some very good specimens of literary criti- 
cism. Sir^Bo^nji^Wadia, a former Judge of the Bombay High 
Court, gives us in essays like " The Modern Literary Scene " 
literary criticism' that is well-informed, discriminating and 
beautifully expressed. But in India free-lance critics and 
reviewers of current literature are either hacks or people who 
do reviewing more or less as a hobby. This is so in Indo- 
Anglian as well as in most vernacular literatures. 

Notwithstanding all this, the Indo-Anglians have given 
us many interesting and some even illuminating studies and 
essays in criticism. Only a bare enumeration of some of the 
more important of these books and studies is here possible. 

Sir Brajendrapath Seal, one of the " Old Guard ", author 
of the philosophical poem, The Quest Eternal, also wrote a 
number of critical essays, some of which are included in New 
Essays in Criticism. Mr^Nagendranath Gupta, another of the 
"Old Guard, was a penetrating critic, and the high quality 
of his literary criticism can be seen in the essays included in 
the collection, The Place of Man and Other Essays. Another 
veteran. Mr. Narasimha Chinitaman Kelkar, contributed many 


critical essays to 'Fhe Mwhratta during the long years of his 
close association with that paper. 

Among Professors of English, it is now possible to find 
quite a few who have adventured into the perilous unknown 
of literary criticism. Dr^N-JK^ Siddhantajs The Heroic Age 
Off India attempts to study the Indian epics, Ramaycma and 
Mahabharata, in relation to the age in which they were pro- 
duced ; his book is therefore complementary to Jfeofessor 
Chadwick's classic of criticism, The Heroic Age. Dr. Siddhanta 
is a diligent student of English Language and Literature and 
presides with distinction over the English Department of the 
Lucknow University. 

Of other professors who have turned critics, we may men- 
tion the following : Prof-^P^ K^ Guha's Tragic Relief is a 
useful footnote to the vast and ever growing literature on 
Tragedy as a literary form ; Dr. Sen Gupta has published a 
thoughtful brochure on the Art of Bernard Shaw ; Prof. 
Bhavani Shanker has given us a helpful and discriminating 
study of Modern English Poetry. These books, and those that 
are included in the selected reading lists, show that the Indo- 
Anglians have of late shed their inferiority complex and 
attempted serious literary criticism in English. Some of the 
critical works of the Indo-Anglians have received a good press 
in Britain no less than in India and have been ^sponsored by 
responsible English and Indian publishers. 


Shakespeare, in particular, has fascinated Indians and won 
a secure place in their hearts. Shakespeare's plays have been 
translated into the Jndian vernaculars and Indian school boys 
know the stories of King Lear and Othello and Shylock and 
Macbeth almost as intimately as they know the stories of Sita 


and Sakuntala and Duryodhana and Savitri. And books on 
Shakespeare too books of all sortshave been appearing fre- 
quently in English no less than in the major modern Indian 
languages. As for journalistical studies on Shakespeare, their 
name is indeed legion. 

Three or four decades ago, a gentleman by name JRentala 
Venkata Subba JR|ui jpublished two extraordinary and volu- 
minous books, Othello Unveiled and Hamlet Unveiled, in which 
he seemed to see a lot more in the two tragedies than Shakes- 
peare himself probably did. Perhaps, their value is negligible 
as criticism ; but they deserve to be read as tantalizing struc- 
tures of fancy in other words, as independent fictional essays 
on the careers of Hamlet and Othello. 

Principal ^K. M. Khadye, Dean of the Faculty of Arts 
of the Bombay University, has published thoughtful studies of 
two of Shakespeare's plays, Antony and Cleopatra and A 
Winter's Tale. 

Prof. P. G. Sahasranama Iyer, formerly of the Travancore 
University, has published a small brochure entitled, Tragi- 
Comedy in English and {Sanskrit Literatures ; in this eye- 
opener, Prof. Iyer has pertinently drawn our attention to the 
parallels between plays like Svapnavasavadatta and Mrichcha- 
katika on the one hand and Cymbeline, A Winter's Tale and 
(The Tempest on the other. 

JProf. Amaranatha Jha, the present Vice-Chancellor of the 
University of Allahabad, is both a well-informed and genuinely 
enthusiastic student of English literature ; besides he wields 
an attractive* pen. In addition to his thoughtful volume, Lite- 
wry Studies, Professor Jha has^ also published stimulating 
studies of Wilfrid Gibson, Rudyard Kipling, W. B. Yeats, Ton* 
Dutt, A. E. Housman, Frederick Harrison and John Morley. 
Further, he has published, not only a discriminating study of 
Shakespearian Comedy, but also learned papers~on "Shakes- 


peare's Plant-Lore", "From Ape to Man in Shakespeare" 
and " Shakespeare's Use of the Monosyllable ". Professor Jha 
is a master of many languages English, Sanskrit, Maithili, 
Hindi, Bengali and is a true heir, in name and fame and 
scholarship, to the Ganganath Jha tradition. 

^ R^fessorjr^M. Advani^of the D. J. Sind College, Karachi, 
has published valuable papers on "Wordsworth as a Moral 
Teacher", "Literature and Life", "Tennyson and the Pro- 
blem of Immortality" and "Carlyle's Conception of the 
Hero "; as a close student of Shakespeare, he has given us very 
interesting papers on " The Womanly Woman of Shakespeare ", 
" The Fools of Shakespeare " and " Crime and Punishment 
in Shakespeare ". 

Dr._R. G. Shahani's Shakespeare through Eastern Byes, a 
competent re-hash of existing material, is nevertheless a very 
readable book, inspired by genuine enthusiasm for the Master 
Dramatist. Dr. Shahani has also very recently published a 
rather controversial book, A White Man in {Search of God. 


Special mention should be made of Prof-JV^ K,^Ayappan 
Pillai's Shakespeare Criticism, an interesting and reliable sur- 
vey from the beginnings to Dr. Johnson. " The appreciation 
of literature in a particular age is virtually the touchstone of the 
age the standard by which the Zeit-Geist should be judged " : 
it is from this sane standpoint that Prof. Pillai considers the 
vicissitudes of Shakespeare criticism in England from contem- 
porary estimates to the time of Dr. Johnson and his famous 
edition of Shakespeare's plays. It is an eminently readable 
and stimulating account of what prominent men and men of 
letters have said or written about Shakespeare and it almost 
constitutes a history of literary taste during the seventeenth 


and eighteenth centuries. When the lectures that constitute the 
book were originally delivered, it appears that, day after day, 
" a crowded hall listened in tense silence". Prof. Pillai's book 
is an invaluable introduction to Augustus Ralli's monumental 
volumes on the subject ; and it is to be hoped that Prof. Pillai 
will complete his survey by publishing a supplementary volume 
or two. Prof. Pillai has also published papers on " The Song 
of Roland 1 " and " Fables and Fabulists ". 

Finally, Dr. C^ Narayana Menonfe Shakespeare Criticism : 
An Essay in Synthem^lVSK) is that rare thing an original 
book on Shakespeare that is scholarly, sane and stimulating 
at the same time. Dr. Menon, who is a Professor of English 
in the Benares Hindu University, aims at showing that " the 
kernel of every Shakespearian play tragedy, comedy, or his- 
tory is the potential in us ... When the emotional stress is 
shifted from the centre to the circumference, and from the 
circumference to a point outside the design, tragedy changes 
inlto comedy and history". Throughout his absorbing essay, 
Dr. Menon shows that his heart is as active as is his head 
and hence he is able to produce a convincing impression of his 
intelligent reactions to the multiverses of Shakespearian drama. 
Dr. Menon has lived in Shakespeare, and his interpretations 
are often intuitive and are expressed in sutra form. While 
his conclusions are intuitive, he has also corroborated them with 
an imposing load of "authorities"; we have thus in Shakes- 
peaxre Criticism 2t true " essay in synthesis ", an inspiring fusion 
of Western and Eastern criticism. 

Dr. Menon's more recent brochure, An Approach to the 
Ramayana, also reveals the same healthy qualities. His view 
is that the Ramayana " represents a synthesis of the cults and 
cultures prevalent in different parts of India. Jtjs the first 
Ppem of Akhand Hindustan ". In less than thirty pages of 
"padked" thought," Dr. Menon "ably establishes his thesis that a 


study of this great national epic " is consistent with both reason 
and self-respect". 

Prof. R. Sadasiva Aiyar, whose King Lear, Hamlet and 
The Tempest maintain a very high standard of scholarship and 
criticism, has also recently broken fresh ground in his thought- 
ful essay, " The Ramaycma in the light of Aristotle's Poetics ". 



In an earlier chapter, we have considered Sri Aurobindo 
as a poet and as a prose writer ; but Sri Aurobindo is also a 

j^ifo^ndeed the most outstanding and inspiring of Indo- 
Anglian critics. His studies of Bankim Chandra and Kalidasa, 

luminous essays both, are available in book form ; but the series 
of thirty-two essays that he contributed to the columns of 
the Arya over (two decades ago under the general title, The 
Future Poetry, has not yet been made available to us in a 
handy form. This extraordinary series of critical essays really 
began as a notice of Dr. J. H . Gousins's New Ways in English 
Literature ; the review, however, was only a starting point, for 
the massive argument was drawn rather from Sri Aurobindo's 
own jdeas and his already conceived view of Art and life. 
^(The Future Poetry takes up about three hundred and fifty 
pages of the Arya< Literary history, aesthetic criticism, appre- 
ciations of Individual English poets from Anglo-Saxon to very 
recent times, speculations on the future of poetry in general 
and of English poetry in particular, discussions on jrecondite 
themes like "Rhythm and Movement", "Style and SubstanoTT 
"Poetic Vision and the Mantra*', "The Ideal Spirit of 
Poetry ", " The Sun of Poetic Truth ", " The Breath of Greater 


Life ", "The Soul of Poetic Delight and Beauty ", " The Word 
and the Spirit" and "The Form and the Spirit", all these 
are seemingly J[ecMessJx thrown into Sri Aurobindo's critical 
and creative melting pot, and the result is a most refreshing 
and illuminatingly informative and prophetic work of literary 

The seear that he is, Sri Aurobindo glimpses the very head 
and front, feels the very pulse and the very heart-beats, of the 
Future Poetry. Characteristically does he call his series of 
critical essays, not the "Future of Poetry", but simply as 
)the "Future Poetry"; it is a thing as gooff as decreed that 
the future poetry should partake of the nature of the mantra : 
" Poetry in the past has^3one~that in moments of supreme ele- 
vation ; in the future there seems to be some chance of its 
majdng it a more conscious aim and steadfast endeavour". 

Sri Aurobindo's "survey" of English poetry is not an 
academic history ; it is rather a personal, a Jemperamental sur- 
vey ; ajid it is more interesting on that score and, as sheer 
interpretative criticism, more valuable also at the same time. 
Everywhere one comes across the same passion for seizing the 
essential truth, the same intuition into the uttermost essence 
of poetry, the same unfailing sense for detecting subtle sound 
values and delicate movements in rhythm, and above all, 
the same wonderful mastery of language that weaves derogation 
and appreciation, criticism and prophecy, illustration and gene- 
ralization into a truly wonderful and mighty fabric of elaborate 
ajid enchanting prose. 

We haVe no space to discuss in detail The Future Poetry. 
Individual appreciations of Chaucer, and Spenser, of Mar- 
lowe and Shakespeare, of Milton, of Wordsworth and Byron, 
of Shelley and Keats, of Tennyson and Browning, of Whitman 
and Yeats are couched in a language that often sounds like 
a blinding cataract ; and the judgments are wonderfully balanc- 


ed and essentially just. For a specimen we might extract this 

paragraph on Marlowe : 

"Marlowe alone of the lesser Elizabethan dramatists 
stands apart from his fellows, not only by his strong and 
magnificent vein of poetry, but because he knows what he 
is about ; he alone has some clearly grasped dramatic idea. 
And not only is he conscious of his artistic aim, but it is 
a sound aim on the higher levels of the dramatic art. He 
knows that the human soul in action is his subject and 
Karma the power of the theme, and he attempts to create 
a drama of the human will throwing itself on life, the will 
goistic and Asuric, conquering only to succumb to the great 
adversary Death or breaking itself against the forces its 
violence has brought into hostile play. This is certainly a 
high and fit subject for tragic creation and his highly doloured 
and strongly cut style and rhythm are well-suited for its 
expression. Unhappily, Marlowe had the conception, but 
not any real power of dramatic execution. Hs is unable 
to give the least awakening breath of life to his figures ; 
in the external manner so common in English poetry and 
fiction he rather constructs than evolves, portrays than throws 
out into life* paints up or sculptures from outside than 
creates from within, which is yet the sole true method of 
poetic or at least of dramatic creation. He has not, either, 
the indispensable art of construction .... In fact, Marlowe 
was "riot a born dramatist ; his true genius wasTlyrical t 
Narrative and epic. Limited by his inborn characteristics, 
he succeeds in bringing out his poetic motive only in strong 
detached scenes and passages or in great culmmatinjj mo- 
ments in which the lyrical cry and the epic touch break 
out through the form of drama ". 

Likewise, Sri Aurobindo's summing-up of the characteristics oi 

a whole age the Elizabethan or the Victorian Age, for instance 


is full of balanced wisdom and has the ring of finality and 

Towards the close of his treatise, Sri Aurobindo discusses 
the possibilities of the future and expresses his belief that the 
day is not far off when the rendition of the veil that obscures 
the vision of the present day poet will be accomplished at last 
and the new poet will hymn his songs in the voice of the inmost 
spirit and truth of things ; when the " futurist " poet will 
achieve the beginningless, eternal, ineffable rhythms of the spirit, 
poetic recordations charged with the triune glories of the 
Beautiful, the Good and the True, but wholly arid seraphically 
free from the blemish of personality and mortality. 


% Of recent Indo-Anglian publications in criticism, more than 
a passing mention must be made of Dr. Amiya Chakravarty's 
The Dynasts and the Post-War Age in Poetry : A Study in 
'Modern Ideas. Dr. Chakravarty was long and intimately asso- 
cialted with the late Rabindranath Tagore, many of whose 
poems he rendered into beautiful English. A Bengali poet in 
his own right, Dr. Chakravarty is a Professor of English in 
the Calcutta University and is an acute and well-informed 
literary critic. i 

Dr. Chakravarty begins his thesis on The Dynasts with 
the assertion that "the dominant problem in modern poetry, 
both ais a subjective concern and as revealed in its manner 
of expression, is the problem of self-consciousness ". Although 
the problem had been faced by other nineteenth century poets 
like Wordsworth, Tennyson, Browning and Arnold, it was 
Thomas Hardy who for the first time tackled the problem 
squarely and boldly, and gave it a status and a name in con- 
temporary poetry. 


Superficially, of course, The Dynasts is a chronicle of 
wasted efforts on an international scale during the Napoleonic 
era. But to Hardy even tfie Napoleonic wars are merely of 
pigmy importance in the cosmic background. Hardy shows 
man reasoning, thinking, willing, conscious man as being 
again and again checkmated by the vast Unconscious in Nature, 
which, having evolved the human consciousness, more often 
than not ^daunts_and defeats the very phenomenon it has 

Since Hardy has given in his works many instances of 
this "thwarted purposing", he has laid himself open to the 
charge of " pessimism ". But there is in Hardy also the same 
tragic richness that redeems the pessimism of a play like King 
Lear. In Dr. Chakravarty's words, " as, after seeing a drama 
of Shakespeare in which storms have raged and human passions 
wrought havoc with human lives, we have yet felt consciously 
re-assured by the simultaneous presence of the supreme beauty 
and nobility in the drama of life, so here too, on the basis of 
that realization, Pity dates to raise its hymn to the Will in 
whom it has trusted ". And the last Chorus in The Dynasts is 
almost a message of hope to ailing humanity. 

Dr. Chakravarty's critical analysis of The Dynasts is an 
admirable piece of work. , His note on the influence of The 
T)ynast$ on modern poetic drama and the illuminating contrasts 
he has instituted between Eliot and Auden on the one hand 
and Hamlet and Napoleon on the other reveal a fine critical 
mind at work. Dr. Chakravarty seems to move in the forest 
that is modern English poetry with ease and confidence and 
hence his critical assessments are both scholarly and stimulating. 


Professor Humayun Kabir, whose poetry has already 
been discussed in an earlier chapter, gave the Sir George Stanley 


Lectures under the auspices of the University of Madras in 
',1941 ; the lectures have been issued in convenient book form 
by the Calcutta University with the title, Poetry, Monads and 
Society: In his Preface, Professor Kabir points out that his 
lectures " centre round the problem of Reconciling the claims 
to uniqueness and universality which art simultaneously makes ". 
The opening lecture on " Poetry, Pleasure and Utility " 
is largely devoted to a criticism of the views of "modernist" 
critics of poetry like Professor Joad and Dr. Richards. In the 
second lecture, "Poetry, Katharsis and Creativity", Professor 
Kabir gives his own explanation of the Aristotelian terms of 
mimesis and_katharsis, and concludes by comparing Poetry to 
Love : 

"Poetry is indeed in a way like love. There may be, 
apd in fact are, thousands and millions of women in the 
world but at the moment of ecstatic love, it is the * unique 
she' who alone exists for the lover. The delight of this 
knowledge of her uniqueness is inseparably tied up with the 
JervouL,and emotional excitement of his being. If the lover 
is told that it is an illusion, he simply laughs at the remark. 
Nothing can prove to him the falsity of what he so directly 
apprehends. And if he is indeed deluded, is not his dream 
better than the awakening ? 

The poet's function then is to see the uniqueness of 
things, and give them a permanent form ". 

In the third lecture, " Poetry, Monads and Society ", Pro- 
fessor K(abir is at once a literary critic and a philosopher. 
Poetry is akin_ to the monad ; " it is unrelated, windowless and 
unique " ; and so every poem " is a monad, an entirely novel 
unit of reality even though it might contain elements that it 
shares in commoil with other poems"; and, above all, "the 
monad of poetry mirrors not only the personal universe of the 
poet but also his social and racial universes". 


Professor Kabir has printed as an jyggendix to his book 
his discriminating appreciation of the poetry of Willian Butler 
Yeats. No doubt, there is not one, but two or three Yeatses ; 
the Yeats of the Celtic Revival is at one end of the scale, 
the " modernist " Yeats with his affiliations to the school of 
Eliot is at the other end ; and yet Professor Kabir is quite right 
when he says that " the synthesis of emotion and intellect is 
the key-note of Yeats's poetry". While recognizing the dis- 
cernible periods in Yeats's enormous poetic career, let us also 
hold fast to the truth that, in the final resort, Yeats's was a 
singularly harmonious poetic power and personality : for, to 
quote Professor Kabir again, "the synthesis of imaginative 
content with conceptual thought worked to make his poetry 
vital and concrete. It earned for Yeats the status of a time- 
less seer". 

Very recently, Professor Kabir has published a study of 
Sarat Chandra Chatterji, the Bengali novelist. Besides attemp- 
ting a critical account of Sarat Chandra's great novels, the 
monograph also roughly indicates his affiliations to Bankim 
Chandra and Rabindranath. The book is animatedly and 
interestingly written ; but it lacks the weight and finish of 
Professor Kabir's Poetry, Monads and Society. 


A few more names and titles may also be added ; Prof 
Amiyakumar Sen's Studies in Shelley ; Prof. K. K, Mehrotra's 
Horace Walpole and the English Novel ; DrTjb! Kar's 'Thoughts 
on the Mediaeval Lyric; Prof^Mphinimohan Bhattacharji^s 
Platonic Ideas in Spenser ; Prof. H. K. Banerji's Henry Field- 
ing ; JMr.JMK.J^ ; Prof. P. SeshadrTs 

monograph on John Leyden ; the present writer's Lytton Stra- 
chey \ Dr. A. C Bose's Three Mystic Poets : Yeats, A. E., 
Tagore ; arid jehangir R, P. Mody's Vondel and Milton. 

. _...^~~-**M. -**>""">. - - **., H 


A word now about reviewers. Reviewing of new literature 
is not very efficiently done in India, although there are not- 
able exceptions like The Hindu, The Modern Review, The 
Indian Review, The Aryan Path, The New Review, The Hindu- 
stan Review and The Indian P. E. N. The Literary Supple- 
ment of The Hindu at one time enjoyed a considerable vogue 
and commanded the services of a notable band of reviewers. 
Under the stress of war-time economy, it has now lost much of 
its well-merited importance and the reviews that now appear in 
its columns are often scrappy and sometimes even perverse. 
It is to be earnestly hoped that as the war is over The Hindu 
will once again publish an efficient Literary Supplement, some- 
what along the lines of the Times Literary Supplement. And, 
of late, the All-India Weekly has developed into a full-blooded 
literary paper, rather analogous to the John O' London's 

When the Literary Supplement of The Hindu was issued 
every Wednesday, discriminating readers gave special impor- 
tance to th6 reviews appearing over the initials " K. S." 
" K. S." is, in fact, Professor K. Swaminathan of the Madras 
Presidency College. We have already referred to his excellent 
edition of Trevelyan's Lifie of Macaulay ; it is a thorough piece 
of work and gives one an idea of the kind of work he can do 
if he likes. But he is or till lately he was--generally conten- 
ted with reviewing current literature in The Hindu. 

Some of Prof. Swaminathan's reviews like the review of 
Walter de la Mare's poems, for example are fine essays in 
criticism, discriminating in their judgments and careful, per- 
haps extra careful, in their phrasing. Even if he is but 
summarizing his author, one cannot but admire the lucid clarity 
of a passage like this: 

" In Milton, there is a dualism which is not only self- 
conscious but deliberately artistic. This dualism, however,. 


is one of forces, not of purpose. Sensuous desire and chas- 
tity are brought together by their mutual passion for conflict, 
jntoleranoe, fierce and fanatical, is the very life- 
breath of Milton's poetry land the one principle of union 
between his fell, incensed and mighty opposites. The conflict, 
which is the central theme of Milton from Comus to Samson, 
is not internal or mental, but external and material. * The 
dark unfathomed infinite abyss' that Shakespeare explores 
with wandering feet is within the mind of Troilus, Hamlet, 
Othello, Lear ; but Satan's perilous journey, long and hard, 
takes him through a pondciable chaos". 

Occasionally, K. S. can bejpompoujjjtnd pontifical as in : 
** we have refrained from bespattering this notice with epi- 
Jjaets-.of indiscriminate laudation" or " most Indo- Anglian 
poetry is born dead and deserves and is doomed to prompt and 
perpetual damnation " or " fabricate a format_pf this studied 
and unstinted sumptuousness ". He also often exhibits a fatal 
weakness for discovering echoes rather indiscriminately : for 
instance, while reviewing Dr. Cou sins' s poetry, he discovers in 
it echoes from Browning, Belloc, Spenser, Shelley, Tennyson, 
Francis Thompson and Milton. He may be right, but the 
method tends to become a vexatious affectation. His extreme 
self-consciousness also sometimes prevents him from apprehend^ 
_ing the sheer authentic in new literature. Only rarely can K. 
S. wholeheartedly surrender himself to a book or an author ; 
and the result is that the self-conscious reviewer often stifles 
the lover of literature ! But, on the whole, K. S. is a reliable 
critic and a fastidious scholar and a conscientious teacher of 
English Literature. 



Biography is not a trifling matter of putting together facts 
and dates and letters and speeches and what not ; Jsipgraphj 
is an art and it should be cultivated as an art. But we have 
~hot~as~yeTnany~ examples of good Indo- Anglian biography; 
we have produced no Boswell, no Aubrey, no Lytton Strachey ; 
otir massive biographies are unreadable and our shorter ones 
puerile. A book like Dhanakoti Raju's Queen Empress Victoria, 
her Life and Times (1887) is merely a haphazard compilation, 
but it gives the pattern of the general run of so-called biogra- 
phies published in India. Journalistic hacks put together in a 
mood of incredible hurry stray speeches and statements and 
scatter a number of dates in between ; the resulting monstro- 
sity is supposed to do duty for a biography ! 

Messrs. G. A. Natesan of Madras have published a number 
of brief biographies turned out according to an unalterable 
formula and they are informative and they have no doubt 
their own uses ; but they never aspire to be true biographies 
like those of Plutarch's or Johnson's. 

Nagendranath Ghose's Memoirs of Maharaja Nubkissen 
Bahadur and Kristo Das Pal are early Indo-Anglian attempts 
at serious biography ; but they cannot be said to be successes. 
Of more recent attempts, we may mention Bepin Chandra Pal's 
Mrs. Annie Besant and Sir Dinsha Wacha's admirable /. N. 
Tata : his Life and Life-Work. 

Principal T. K. Shahani's Gopal Krishna- Gokhale, des- 
cribed as a "Historical Biography^, is a very competent piece 
of work! it is carefully documented, and it shows a complete 
grasp of the political and economic questions which Gokhale 
was called upon to tackle in his all too brief public career. 


Gokhale's early years, his " apprenticeship ", his determination 
to dedicate his all to the Motherland, his grasp of questions 
relating to Indian finance, his moderatism, his pioneering labours 
in the cause of education, all are surveyed in considerable 
detail. ^Principal Shahani's 400-page biography is an iifl>(>ipg w 
record of the^ career of one of India's greatest men ; but it does 
not show us Gokhale the man ; and it is therefore necessary to 
turn also to the Rt. Hon. Srinivasa Sastri's Mysore University 
Extension Lectures on the life of Gokhale to get a complete 
picture of the departed patriot and statesman. 
"Mr. Sastri's Life of Gokhale is a collection of 

speeches on the subject to evening audiences in Bangalore, And 
yet the book is all the better for it and the more resplendently 
does the personality of Gokhale shine on its radiant pages. 
Like all good biographies, Mr. Sastri's Life of Gokhale also 
enables us to know intimately both the hero and the bio- 
grapher ; and spoken throughout in the pellucid prose of which 
Mr. Sastri is so absolute a master, Life of Gokhale is a book 
which familiarly shares confidence with us rather than ponti- 
fically imparts information to us ; it is, in short, the work of 
a Boswell on Dr. Johnson, and it is consequently splendid stuff. 
Mr. Sastri's recent address on Mahadev Govind Ranade, 
smaller in scope than the lectures on Gokhale, reveals nonethe- 
less the same qualities of divination and sheer literary artistry. 


There are other useful and informative biographical studies 
also which may be appropriately referred to here : P. C. Ray's 
Life tend Times^of C. R. Das, Sir Jogendra SinghT*Giirii Na- 
nak, Kartar Singh's Gum Gouind Singh. S. Natarajan's Ldlu- 
ffKai Samaldas, Anup Singh's Nehru, the Rising Star of India, 
the present writer's^. Srinivasa lyengar and Iqbal Singh's Gau- 
tama Buddha. Many so-called Indian biographies are merely 


political or philosophical essays, or no more than chronicles ; 
and hence they rarely succeed in revealing the contours of the 
very human personalities of the respective heroes. 

Professor Correia-Afonso's \The {Spirit of Xavier is an ade- 
quately documented, yet very readable and inspiring, study of 
the great St. Francis Xavier, the Apostle of the Indies. Prof. 
Correia-Afonso succinctly calls St. Xavier "the a Kempis of 
action : his life is the Imitation of Christ ". The Spaniard, 
the scholar, the Jesuit, the missionary, the saint, these facets 
of Xavier are one by one lovingly and reverently delineated ; 
and an inspiring picture emerges at last. 

perhaps, the single outstanding example of Indo-Anglian 
biography is Sir Rustom Masani's Dadabhai Naoroji, a vera- 
"cious, conscientious and thorough piece of work. TRe nar- 
rative is lucid and straight-forward ; the book is interspersed 
with many self-revealing letters ; and the remorseless march- of 
the years and the procession of the events coalesce naturally 
with the life-story of the Grand Old Man, one of the makers 
of modern India. 

Sir Rustom has succeeded where others have so signally 
failed because he alone has fully realized the importance of 
personal letters and he alone has evinced both sympathy with 
the subject and respect for Truth ; and he alone has had at 
once the patience to collect all the available material and the 
discrimination to utilize only the most significant among them. 

It may be added, in conclusion, that thfe task of the Indo- 
Anglian biographer is difficult, if not impossible, because our 
heroes do not (generally speaking) keep diaries or write lone: 
or self-revealing letters ; even if they do, they are very soon 
lost and do not become available to the biographer. That is 
the reason why our biographies tend to lay more emphasis on 
the heroes' public life or publicly expressed opinions than on 
their "inner" life, their human attitudes, occupations, and 


foibles or the interesting circumstances of their private life. 
It is a pity that we cannot know our heroes a Pandit Motilal 
Nehru, a Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a Lalk Lajpat Rai, an S. Srini- 
vasa lyengar, as intimately as we can a Dr. Johnson or a 
Walter Scott or a Disraeli. 

JVIr. N. C. Kelkar's Marathi biography of Lokamanya 
Tilak has been in part translated into English, andTt is~a jmefi- 
torious work indeed, being a biography in the Boswellian tradi- 
tion ; but we want more such books, more and more of them, 
in English and in the vernaculars. 


While the Indo-Anglians have given us few good biogra- 
phies, they have been more successful in attempting miniature 
portraits after the manner of A. G. Gardiner, Philip Guedella, 
Hannen Swaffer, Ernest Raymond and Harold Laski. 

Mr. Iswara Dutt's Sparks and Fumes contains pen-pictures 
of thirteen Andhra leaders like C. R. Reddy, C. Y. Chintamani, 
Konda Venkatappiah, T. Prakasam, B. Sambamurti and 
^Pattabhi Sitaramiah.' The sketches are all eminently readable 
and enjoyable and we can but echo the late Mr. S. Srinivasa 
lyengar's words in the Foreword : " His phrasing is crisp and 
convincing, his style has both vigour and freshness, and his 
delineation is characterized by shrewdness and subtlety ". We 
have to content ourselves with only a single extract, taken from 
the essay on Bulusu Sambamurti . 

" He is always one step in advance of the national regi- 
ment. To him Dr. Pattabhi is an extremist among moder- 
ates and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru a moderate among extre- 
mists. Ipso facto, he is an extremist among extremists. 
Primarily a man for direct action, he would laugh to scorn 
all puerile controversies and petty wranglings, and openly sneer 
at all mellifluous apologies to consecrated political tradi- 
16 "~ 


tions. ... He turns Nelson's blind eye to all verbal tight- 
rope dance, and hears only the paeans of the battle-field." 

Mr. K. Chandraselcharan's Persons and Personalities,. 
being the work of a lawyer rather than that of a journalist, is 
InSSreludlciar and less vivacious/ Mr. Chandrasekharan writes 
soberly and thereby sometimes leaves a more lasting impres- 
sion than others do with their , seeming glitter and raciness. 
For one thing, Chandrasekharan writes of people whom he has 
personally known, people (let us say) in the delectable regions 
of Mylapore. That is the reason why Chandrasekharan deli- 
vers the goods without fuss and without a hitch. Not only are 
* persons ' like the Rt. Hon. Srinivasa Sastri, Sir S. Varadachari, 
Sir C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar and Mr. Venkataramani snapped 
convincingly in these pages, but ' personalities ' like " My Fav- 
ourite Guest", "My Family, Friend", "My Teacher" and 
"My Pundit" are also charmingly portrayed. It is the true 
measure of Chandrasekharan's distinction as a portraitist that 
his sketches are written " in simple 'and elegant prose and with 
a justness of appreciation and real understanding ". 

f India ^ ^contains thumb- 

nail sketches of Abul Kalam Azad, C. Rajagopalachaii. Saro- 
TuirNaidu, Jayaprakash Narain and other front-rank leaders. 
THe portraits are somewhat journalistically written and appeal 
to the reader at once. 

jKhasa Subba Rau^Mitt in the Limelight is a collection 
* tw fL ve P?tE?T tra ^ s * There are politicians, journalists like 
Pothan Joseph andTKT Srinivasan, a philosopher like Professor 
Radhakrishnan, an idealist like S. Doraiswami Iyer ; but in- 
evitably the politicians outnumber the rest. Subba Rau is a 
facile writer and writes freely and even fearlessly. One of the 
best essays in the collection is that on the late S. Srinivasa 
lyengar; the lawyer, the politician, the dynamic leader, the 
brave Achilles sulking in his tents, the statesman, these facets 


of the great departed leader's personality are lovingly touched 
and a fine portrait emerges in the end. Here is a memorable 
^ngp of the lawyer : 

" In the High Court, where he is undoubtedly the most 
distinguished legal practitioner of his generation, his bearing 
is one of quiet confidence. Punctilious punctuality, a mas- 
tery over self that never wavers or permits the slightest loss 
of temper, a reserve so complete as to be almost forbidding 
and to ward off all familiarities from the officious, are the 
ingredients of his external functioning as an advocate. Years 
of practice have fashioned out of them a standard of pro- 
fessional comportment unmatched for its suggestion of latent 
power without any taint of affectation or a desire to impress, 
a rare combination of attributes which may be regarded as 
the essence of artistry in the craftsmanship of advocacy. 
Under this disciplined exterior is a veritable dynamo of un- 
canny cerebral activity going on in the midst of an almost 
oceanic immensity of legal knowledge, and the jreverenoe 
evoked in consequence whenever he enters any gathering of 

lawyers amounts to a feeling of awe He walks the courts 

apparently as all other advocates do, but hushed sensation 
follows his footsteps as a symbol of mental homage and he 
is treated by Bench and Bar alike as an Olympian whose 
supremacy none dare challenge." 

The same crispness in phrasing is also evident in the other 
sketches in Men in the Limelight. 

^^S^hdhidananda Sinha, who has meritoriously distin- 
guished himself in many walks of life, who has been eminent 
in the fields of law, education, journalism and public life, has 
also been publishing from time to time character-sketches of 
his eminent contemporaries ; to read Dr. Sinha's sketches of 
Dr. Ganganath Jha or Devamitta Dharmapala or Dr. Rajendra 
Prasad is to exchange pulses with these great personalities as 


also with the great' scholar-journalist who has served the 
Mother in many capacities over a period of five or more 
decades. * 

Special mention must also be made of Professor A. A 

-* -. r jf f l^. 

Wadia's Mahatma Gandhi, an original character-study m the 
"form of a discussion between four persons, representing foui 
points of view. The book is sui generis, and has properly 
become a best-seller. 

In conclusion it may be stated that it is, on the whole, 
rather difficult for Indians to write good biographies and 
character-sketches, not only on account of thejgaucity of easily 
accessible data in the form of letters and diaries, but also 
because with us, as Mr. S. Srinivasa lyengar once clinchingly 
put it, " the skin is still sensitive to criticism but gluttonous to 
flattery ". To be both sympathetic and just is like walking on 
the 'razor's edge and few Indo-Anglians are quite able to achieve 
the feat. Anyhow, we have begun with a fair number of credit- 
able bi^raphies jnd miniatures, and we should be able to do 
better in the future. 


In the field of auto-biography, on the other hand, the 
Indo-Anglians have given us many interesting and two or 
three triumphant exhibits. JRajaJ^ammohan Roy wrote a brief 
autobiographical sketch in English which is reproduced in Raja 
JRao and Iqbal Singh's Changing India ; and many autobio- 
graphies and autobiographical sketches have appeared since in 
English as well as in the vernaculars. 

JMaharshi Debendranath Tagore's autobiography, which 
has Been rendered into English by SatyendranalK Tagore and 
Indira Devi, is an inspiring piece of writing. Jk> is Mahatma 
Gandhi's autobiography, My Experiments with Truth, Eng- 
lish^T)eaufiTu!Iy ~by~ flieTMe Mahadeo Desai. If the original 


is a Gujarat! classic, Mahadev Desai's version is no less an 
English classic. The autobiography is written with utter 
honesty, a painstaking accuracy, and a disarming candour. 

It is said that anyone almost can write an absorbing auto- 
biography if he is unashamedly candid and sincere and if he can 
also write with ease. And when the writer is a person of the 
eminence of Mahatma Gandhi, who has lived life intensely and 
richly and variously, the result is bound to be a masterpiece 
and so indeed it is. Gandhi hides nothing ; he spares none, 
least of all himself ; he has absolutely no axes to grind. A 
beautifuHranquillity shines on the pages of the autobiography ; 
school life or dietetics or bmhmacharya or politics, they are 
all truthfully and ^serenely told with neither extenuation nor 
special pleading. Whether we consider it as a record of 'righte- 
ous adventure or as a moral tract or simply as a model of 
pellucid writing, Gandhi's autobiography is a vastly import- 
ant work. 

JPaiadit Jawaharlal Nehru's Autobiography has been a 
best-seller in India and in England, and even in America, since 
its publication a few years ago. The causes of its popularity 
are not difficult to enumerate. It is, in the first place, the 
autobiography of one of India's foremost leaders, one who 
is often identified with Renascent India itself in the throes of 
her rebirth. It is, in the second place, a fairly accurate picture 
of Indian politics during the twenties and thirties, snapped 
from the vantage ground of what one might call popular extre- 
mism. It is, in the third place, a very readable book, fresh and 
conversational in tone, faultless and unlaboured in its idiom. 

The book runs to over six hundred pages ; and yet there 
is no dull page in the book. JP^ndit Nehru wrote the book in 
prison between June 1934 and February 1935 ; he saw it 
TKrougfi "the" press when his wife, Kamala Nehru, was lying 
seriously ill in a continental sanatorium ; and he dedicated it 


to " Kamala who is no more ". Perhaps, had Pandit Nehru 
found time to write an Autobiography in his own Allahabad 
residence, he might have produced a tome more full of facts 
and dates and extracts and cross-references than the one we 
now possess ; and less of an autobiography it would have been! 
A personal statement is what we want and this is what he gives 
us in his Autobiography ; indeed, the book would be even 
better than it is did it contain less politics and more humanity. 

Pandit Jawaharlal's political graph was determined by the 
trilinear co-ordinates of Motilal Nehru, a prolonged education 
in England, and the impact of Mahatma Gandhi on Young 
India ; the graph has held to its own course and followed its 
own unique undulations without a doubt ; but always it has 
felt the necessity to draw its strength from these three influ- 
ences. It is interesting, even instructive, to follow step by step 
Jawaharlars transformation from the " prig " who returned to 
India in the autumn of 1912 through war-time politics, 
Rowlatt Satyagraha, Non-co-operation, Municipal politics, the 
Brussels Congress, the Independence movement, and Salt 
Satyagraha into the President of the Congress. JjLJ_the 
story ot two decades of Indian politics but our interest is all 
the time claimed by the hero of the pages, Pandit Nehru 

The autobiographer should be thoroughly honest ; he 
should not be afraid of looking a fool ; he is writing, not to 
make out a case for himself, but to lay bare the " facts of the 
case" about himself. Pandit Nehru knows this and generally 
refrains from writing about things that might defeat his pur- 
pose. And when he writes about his own feelings and the 
results of his own self-introspections, there is. just that combi- 
nation of self-control and self-knowledge out of which great 
autobiography is made. 

Fen-pictures of several leaders, snaps of many more, are 


scattered in the pages of the book. Some of the judgments are 
biassed ; some are too harsh ; the .withering allusion to the 
Rt. Hon. Srinivasa Sastri's address to students on the neces- 
sity of discipline savours too much of the Bright Young Thing, 
while the vehemence of the attacks against rival schools of 
political thought betrays a cocksureness that is more amate- 
urish than profound. But all is redeemed by a pervading 
openheartedness and an unfailing clarity of expression. It is 
beyond question one of the great autobiographies of our time. 


Subhas Bose's autobiography,_Aw Indian Pilgrim, reputed 
to be the genuine article, has not yet had its chance In Indiau 
The full-length autobiographies of Sir P. C. Ray and Sir 
Surendranath Bannerjee are also very inspiring stuff and 
deserve a greater vogue than they enjoy at present. 

Many other Indo-Anglians have produced partial auto- 
biographies or travel sketches. JRabindranath Tagore's Aty 
Reminiscences jsjull of memorable bursts of self-revelation and 
Is written in beautiful prose. The late G. K. Chettur's The 
Last Enchmtment, like Karaka's The Pulse of Oxford, is a 
book on Oxford ; in it Chettur's humanity is revealed as fully 
as his mastery over English. 

JMr. K. M. Munshi's / Follow the Mahatma is an arrest- 
ing record that helps_us to^ understand both_ Munsfai and 
"MahatmajjL It is also, like Jawaharlal's Autobiography, a 
personal political record, inspired by a fervent patriotism and 
written with candour and ease. 

^Travel fioofcs lire in a class apart. And some of them- 
for instance, ^L S. Wadia's The CM of the World, A. S. P. 
Ayyar*s An Indian" w Western ~Eurof>eT5. Natarajan's West of 
Suez, Karaka'g Chunking Diary and K. S. Bannerjee's Across 
the Near East show that our travellers have a wide-awake 


curiosity and are willing to take the trouble to share their ex- 
periences with others. Mr. Wadia's book takes us round the 
worldBritain^ Ameri(^andl:he Far East ; his is a scholar's 
record, and if is replete with literary echoes and apt quotations 
from a variety of literary celebrities. Ayyar's is a straight- 
forward and informative book and it is written with convincing 
sincerity and forced* "Karaka's book is competent journalism 
but, as Mr. Edgar Snow points out, it has a practical as well 
as an entertainment value ; for, it is indeed " a vivid document 
of personal experience, a lively and witty^ response to the 
stimuli of a historic struggle going on in India's front-yard ". 

Natarajan's West of Suez is also journalistically written, 
but it has much more than an ephemeral value. Natarajan 
writes clearly, directly, and effectively ; he has courage to call 
a spade a spade ; he describes men and things, movements and 
ideas ; and he not seldom allows us to get near to him, and 
exchange confidences with him. 



Many Indians have published historical surveys and 
studies in the English language. JPramji Dosabhai's The 
Parsees : ^their History, Manners, Customs and Religion was 
published as early as 1858. Rajendralal Mitra published a 
similar study, the Parsees of Bombay, in 1880 ; he was also 
the author of The ^MiquiMs tf Orissa and Indo-Aryans, 
sumptuous volumes both. Other early historical studies are 
Romesh Chunder Dutt's A History of Civilization in Ancient 
Tn3Ta t 'TTie ~ Economic History of British India, India in the 
Victorian Age and Later tliridu Civilization. 


Syed Ahmad Khan, the eminent Muslim educationist and 
social reformer, wrote a competent Archaeological History of. 
"Delhi while Jiis no less distinguished son, Syed Mahmood the 
jurist, wrote a History oj Education in India. Another eminent 
"Muslim, the Rt Hon. Syed Ameer Ali, published A Short 
History af the Saracens. 

Mahadev Govind Ranade, often called the " father of 
Indian Economics ", was versatile in his accomplishments and 
Vas indeed one of the makers of modern India. His monu- 
mental historical work, The Rise of the Maratha Power, was 
published in 1900. Barrister V. D. Savarkar's more recent 
book, Hindu Pad Padshahi, is another eye-opener in regard to 
one of the inspiring chapters of Indian history. 

Among the other historical studies published in the last 
century, we may here mention JVL^N. Mehta's Native States of 
India, J. N. Bhattacharya's Hindu Castes and Sects and P. 
N". Bose's Hindu Civilization under British Rule. Many more 
titles might be listed, but these books, however meritorious in 
themselves, are nowadays untouched by any except antiqua- 
rians and researchers ; but there they are, symbols of the 
industry of an earlier generation of Indo-Anglians. 


In the twentieth century, historical works are being pub- 
lished in very considerable numbers. Research journals have 
been started in different parts of the country and some of them 
are doing very good work indeed ; two of these, the Indian 
Historical Quarterly and the Journal of Indian History, are 
on an all-India basis, while others like the Journal of the Bihar 
and Orissa Historical Research Society or the Jama Quarterly, 
are conducted on sectional or regional lines. No doubt, only 
rarely do " research " papers achieve readability ; addressed 
to a select class of readers, weighted with loads of footnotes and 


innumerable citations, they generally frighten the common 

, And yet a historical narrative can be made at once autho- 
ritative and irresistibly interesting. A great historian will give 
his narrative the sinuosity and the curve, the roar and the 
march, the beauty and the significance, of a true heroic poem. 
A Herodotus, a Caesar, a Gibbon, a Carlyle, a Macaulay, 
they are all historians ar^d they are also men_of letters in their 
owjr^ rijght It is the artist's, the poet's, privilege to 'see the 
significance behind a multitude of isolated facts and dates and 
names and details, while the mere researcher is but a plodder, 
at best no more than a hewer of wood and a drawer of water 
for the imaginative historian who makes a historical record a 
work of prose art. 

Sir Jadunath Sarcar is easily the most outstanding figure 
among the Indo- Anglian historians. His well-known History 
vf "Aurangazib in five volumes is both meritorious as history 
and fascinating as literature. His other books include Fall of 
the Mughal Empire, India through the Ages, Shivaji and 
Chaitanya. Sir Jadunath wields a powerful prose style which 
reduces to order, shapeliness and beauty the stories of Shivaji 
and Chaitanya and of the long and fateful reign of Emperor 

Various other historians also have achieved the feat of 
iiarmonizing severe scholarship with readability and even 
beauty. Prof. K. T. Shah is a brilliant economist and political 
xwnmentator ; his Post-War Germany and The Russian Ex- 
periment are useful and interesting studies ; his books on the 
Government of India Act of 1935 and on India's present-day 
problems are all written trenchantly ; it is, however, in his 
massive volume, The Splendour that was Ind, thatJProf. Shah, 
jives us an inspiring record of the vicissitudes and indubitably 


achievements of Indian civilization. jOr. Radhakumud Muker- 
Jea also has given a useful treatise on Hindu CiffliirifdrL "~ 

Of the other Indo- Anglian historians, IshvyarMPrasad 
JP. T. Srinivasa lyengar, A. Yusuf AH, and a few others staric 
prominent. These distinguished scholars have published spe- 
cialist studies of various epochs of Indian history ; but, gene- 
rally speaking, either their works are too specialist and heavy 
or, when they attempt popular history, their works are just 
school and college text-books. Although an Ishwari Prasad or 
a j^ilakanta Sastri is better informed than most European 
students of Indian history, it is nevertheless a Vincent Smith 
or a Sir George Dunbar who produces a readable x history of 
India for the general reader no less than for the college student. 

It is, therefore, to be hoped that the Indo-Anglians will 
give us in the future, not merely scholarly treatises, but also 
historical surveys that will attract and hold the attention of 
the common reader. Some at least of our historians, who like 
Jadunath Sarcar have a gift for style, should strive to be our 
Trevelyans and Fishers and Wingfield-Stratfords. In other 
words, our best historical studies should aspire to the status 
of literature. And historians like Romesh Chunder Dutt and 
Jadunath Sarcar have shown already that the task is not 


While professors and teachers have no doubt given us 
many useful and reliable histories while some of them have 
devoted many long years to untie the bafflingjmots in human 
history they are not the only people who have attempted to 
tell the stories of men and of nations. In the midst of a busy 
professional life, Ranade was able to wrltcTa history of the rise 
'of "the Maratha power; likewise Lokamanya Tilak produced 
TiisT stimulating and thoughtful studies, Orion and The Arctic 


of^Jhe Vedas -, Major M. D. Basu, wrote a number of 
books on the British period of Indian History ; Mr^Ambika 
CharanJWajumdas Indian National Evolution and Dr. Pat- 
tabhi Sitaramajxa's History of the Indian National Congress 
^Sne^toth very well written and are very reliable records ; and" 
LalFLajpat Rail's Unhappy India also may be roughly classed 
with these illuminating surveys and historical studies. 

But, perhaps, no popular history by an Indo-Anglian has 
quite achieved the vogue of Jawaharlal Nehru's Glimpses of 
World History. It is chattily written and consists of ^a series of 
familiar letters addressed to his daughter, Indira. The Glimpses 
is by no means a historical treatise ; " I have given you ", he 
'says in the last letter, " the barest outline ; this is not history ; 
they are but fleeting glimpses of our long past ". Pandit Nehru 
is 4 clever chronicler, charmed by thejpageant of world history, 
and he re-tells the oft-told tale in an animated and self- 
confident manner. ~~ 

The Glimpses has become somewhat of a best-seller in the 

English-speaking countries. Jawaharlal is certainly among the 

finest of present-day English prose writers and his epistles 

hum and spaikle and argue and prophesy with a singular cock- 

sureness and charm that capture our imagination at once. 

Towards the close of his book, Jawaharlal assures his daughter : 

" If, then, you look upon past history with the eye of 

sympathy, the dry bones will fill up with flesh and blood, 

and you will see a mighty procession of living men and 

women and children in every age and every clime, different 

from us and yet very like us, with much the same human 

virtues and human failings. History is not a magic show, 

but there is plenty of magic in it for those who have eyes to 


And certainly many a letter in Glimpses of World History 
proves a charmed magic casement and " innumerable pictures 


from the gallery of history crowd our minds ". To young and 
old alike, reading the Glimpses will ever prove a most en- 
lightening experience. 


Philosophy has always attracted the Indo-Anglians. The 
impact of the West on the Orient compelled a reconsideration 
and revaluation of India's religions and philosophies ; and in 
due course philosophical studies and treatises appeared in 

Raja Rammohan Roy was one of the first, if not the very 
first, to attempt an exposition of the basic truths of Hinduism 
through the medium of English. He published a number of 
thoughtful brochures like A Defence of Hindu Theism and 
Divine Worship by means of Gayuttree. Although Ralnmohan 
is often wrongly represented, especially by some Christian mis- 
sionaries, as a total rebel against Hinduism, he was really, as 
Dr. Wingfield-Stratford has wisely discerned, " a loyal Hindu, 
a Brahman of the Brahmans, steeped in the lore of the Upa- 
nishads and making his life's work the restoration of the Hindu 
faith to its pristine simplicity ". 

Many writers, Hindu and Muslim, soon followed in the 
wake of Rammohan's inspiring example and we have had in 
consequence a considerable harvest of philosophical literature. 
Some of these early publications include Gangopadhyaya's Life 
"and Religion of the Hindus (I860), Chandra's Brahmanism 
( 1870) ,^Syed[ Ameer Ali's Ethics* of Islam and The Spirit oj 
Islam, P. C. Majumdar's Lowell Lectures on Hindu Religion and 
Society and^Sir^Brajgidranath ^^^Comjmatm Studies, in 
Vaishnavism and Christianity. 

Meanwhile two very helpful books appeared which gave 
a fillip Jo the new scholarship : j^endrabala^ Mitra j " A 
Scheme for the rendering of European Scientific Terms into 


the Vernaculars of India" (1877) and Ramakrishna Gopal 
Bhandarkafs "Critical, comgarative, and. historical method of 
inquiry as j^Dplied to Sanskrit scholarship jand philosophyjand 
Indian Archaeology" (1888). Another book of like nature, An 
Introduction" to Textual Criticism, has very recently been 
published by Dr. S. M. Katre of the Deoc^n College Research 

Eh-. Bhandarkar himself applied the method of inquiry he 
had explained in the above brochure to a critical study of 
Indian languages, literatures and philosophical systems. He 
published jrvery lajrge number of learned papers on a variety 
of subjects and^some of his books, for instance Vaishnavism^ 
Shaivism and Minor Religious Systems and his Grammars of the 
Sanskrit language, are still very widely used and admired. 
vOther well-known scholars like the late JK. T. Telang^ 
e, Y. Rangacharya and K. Sundara- 

raman also did yeomen service to English readers by either 
translating Sanskrit classics into English or by publishing com- 
mentaries or criticisms of the same. Tdan^s translation; erf 
the Bhagavad Gita and Rangacharya's lectures on the Gita in 
three massive volumes no less than Ganganath Jha's and 
Sundararaman's learned introductions and commentaries de- 
serve special mention here. And Swami Ram Tirth's innumer- 
able lectures on Hindu philosophy can still be read with much" 
pleasure and profit. 


It was, however, Swami Vivekananda that first definitely 
gut^ Indian philosophy on the world map^ His addresses on 
Vedanta philosophy, his lectures on Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, 
Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga, and his beautiful monographs 
on Hinduism and Vedanta, all took India by storm about forty 
years ago. Vivekananda was a popularizer of genius ; but 


he was a creative philosophical thinker also at the same time, 
He played a competent St. Paul to the great Jesus that 
Ramakrishna had been. ' 

Vivekananda's active caneer was compressed into a brief 
period ; " like a meteor of the first magnitude " to quote Mr. 
N. C. Kelkar, " he lighted up the face of his country and 
went down the horizon all within ten short years ". But even 
within this brief span, he laid the foundations of the Rama- 
krishna Asram on a secure basis and left it to continue his 
great work. His ideal can be summed up in his own words : 

" The gift of India is the gift of religion and philosophy, 
wisdom and spirituality ; and religion does not want cohorts 
to march before its path and clear its way. Wisdom and 
philosophy do not want to be carried on torrents of blood. 
They do not march upon bloody human bodies, do not march 
with human violence, but come or\ the wings of peace and love. 
Like the gentle dew that falls unseen and unheard and yet 
brings into blossom the fairest of roses, so has been the con- 
tribution oflndia to the thought of the world 1 am an 

imaginative man and my idea is the conquest of the whole 
world by the Hindu race ". 

Ramakrishna's and Vivekananda's work is being continued 
by the Ramakrishna Asrams scattered all over the world and 
by philosophical journals like the Prabuddha Bharata and the 
Vedanta Kesari. 

In this connection may also be mentioned the first editor 
of the Prabuddha Bharata, the late B.JR. JRajam_Aiyar, whose 
death at the tender age of twenty-six was no mean loss to 
Indian letters. His varied contributions to the Prabuddha 
Bharata are now collected and published in one volume of 
about seven hundred pages with the excellent title, Rumbles in 
Vedanta. If one wants to leam philosophy, especially 
Vedanta philosophy, without tears, one cannot do better than 


spend an hour every day with Rajam Aiyar's Rambles in 
Vedanta. Erudition, humour, wit, candour, a sense of style, a 
feeling for Sanskrit," English and Tamil poetry, all are evident 
on the pages of the book. He is clever and wise enough to 
trip Mr. Caldweil on his own chosen ground ; his essays on the 
Gita appeal to our hearts at once ; his interpretations of sym- 
bols like Nataraja and Seshasayana are both interesting and 
convincing; his life : sketches of "Seekers after God" like 
Nanda, Sri Alawandar, Buddha, and Ramakrishna are inspir- 
ing chronicles ; and, in short, once we open Rambles in Vedanta 
we shall find it very difficult to shut it it is so sincerely, beauti- 
fully and fascinatingly written. And it is a book for the young 
as well as for the old. 

Rabindranath Tagore was primarily a poet and when he 
turned a philosopher, as he did in Sadhana and Religion oj Man 
(Hibbert Lectures), he gave us not merely the philosophy of 
a poet but the very poetry of philosophy. He had the poet's 
genius for seizing the 'essentials and exhibiting them in all their 
significance and beauty. His Foreword to the Everymans 
edition of Hindu Scriptures is hardly two pages in length, but 
it succintly and memorably tells us the essence of the Vedas, 
the Upanishads and the Gita. He could state the ancient Indian 
ideal in but a couple of sentences : 

" The ideal that India tried to realize led her best men 
to the isolation of a contemplative life, and the treasures 
that she gained for mankind by penetrating into the mysteries 
of reality cost her dear in the sphere of worldly success. Yet, 
this also was a sublime achievement it was a supreme mani- 
festation of thaTTuffiian aspiration whteh knows no limit, 
and which has for its object nothing less thai\ the realiza- 
tion of the Infinite ." 

J^gore's_ Hibbert Lectures on the " Religion of Man " are 
a poet's^ripe testament. " It gives me a great joy", he says, 


to feel in my life detachment at the idea of a mystery of a 
meeting between the two (the Infinite and Man) in a creative 
comradeship. I felt that I had found miy religion at last, the 
Religion of Man, in which the Infinite became defined in 
humanity and came close to me so as to need my love and 
co-operation ". This intimate and perennial personal touch 
with God is the recurring note of Tagore's " Religion of Man". 
He was no believer in merejiscgtisism and he exhorted Man to 
be faithful to the kindred and reconcilable claims of " Heaven 
and Home ". ~~"~ " ~ 


Sir S. Radhakrishnan^whp hasjieservedl^_won a worldwide 
reputation as an interpreter of India's philosophy, is among 
the two or three Indo-Anglian philosophers who are perfectly 
at home in the English language. He is widely read in English 
and European literature and this knowledge gives a peculiar 
flavour to his philosophical writings. Further, he is reputed 
to be a very good student of both Western and Indian thought 
and this, again, stands him in good stead when he embarks 
on comparative studies in philosophy or when he tries to make 
the West and the East understand and appreciate each other. 
Hampton and Hibbert Lecturer, member of the British Academy, 
Spalding Professor in the University of Oxford, ^Professor 
Radhakrishnan is India's cultural ambassador to the West ; 
BuFlie is at the same time a leader of India and it is appro- 
priate that he should be the Vice-Chancellor of the Benares 
Hindu University. 

Professor Radhakrishnan's works include The Reign of 
Religion in Contemporary Philosophy, The Philosophy of 
Rahindranath Tagore, The Hindu View of Life, Indian 
Philosophy, An Idealist View of Life, The Heart of Hindustan, 
Kalki or the Future of Civilization and Eastern Religions and 


Western Thought. JHjs massive two-volume survey of Indian 
Philosophy jias nowjtepome a classic. We cannot refrain from 
giving here the opinion of the late JMahajnaho^adhyaya _JS. 
Kuppuswami Sastri : " Professor Radhakrishnan's volumes on 
Indla^PlSiosoiphy easily surpass similar works about the same 
subject in respect of form and matter, in respect of exposit- 
ary brilliance and estimative tact, and in respect of textual cor- 
relations and technical elucidations. .. .the gripping and liv- 
ing interest of Professor Radhakrishnan's volumes, which suc- 
cessfully exhibit the course of Indian philosophical thought as 
a perennial stream of progressive sweetness, and the ancient 
makers and moulders of this thought, not as so many embalm- 
ed corpses, but as living embodiments of philosophical in- 
sight and continually suggestive forces of well-regulated reason". 

4n his more recent works, Professor Radhakrishnan is seen 
to be an inspiring and reliable guide to Indian philosophy, a 
constructive thinker on his own. He has not been jnaptly 
compared to Cardinal Newman ; and, indeed, some of Profes- 
sor Radhakrishnan's pronouncements are prophetic in their 
vision and jervour. His diagnoi of the modern world's mani- 
fold ills and his programme for reform are alike worthy of 
our earnest consideration : 

"We are at a gloomy moment in history. Never has the 
future seemed so incalculable. With a dreary fatality the 
tragedy moves on. The .world of nations seems to be like a 
nursery full of perverse, bumptious, ill-tempered children, nag- 
ging one another and making a display of their toys of earthly 
possessions, thrilled by mere size. This is true of all coun- 
tries. It is not a question of East or West, of Asia or Europe. 
No intelligent Asiatic can help admiring and reverencing the 
great races that live in Europe and their noble and exalted 
achievements. His heart is wrung when he sees dark clouds 
massing on the horizon. There is something coarse at the very 


centre of our civilization by which it is betrayed again and 
again. No civilization, however brilliant, can stand up against 
the social resentments and class conflicts which accompany a 
maladjustment of wealth, labour and leisure. Perpetual distur- 
bance will be our doom if we do not recognize that the world 
is one and interdependent. If we do not alter the framework 
of the social system and the international order, which are 
based on force and the exploitation of the inferior individuals 
and backward nations, world peace will be a wild dream. 
While resolved to renounce nothing, this generation wishes to 
enjoy the fruits of renunciation Owing to a cross-ferti- 
lization of ideas and insights, behind which lie centuries of 
racial and cultural tradition and earnest endeavour, a great 
unification is taking place in the fabricjrf men's thoughts". 

Professor Radhakrishnan's central interest has always been 
"the practical bearing of philosophy on life"; and it is to 
his credit that he has given Indian Philosophy the place it 
deserves in the entire scheme of modern thought. 

Besides Professor Radhakrishnan, other Indian professors 
of philosophy or Sanskrit also have given us reliable and read- 
able surveys of Indian Philosophy or studies of particular aspects 
of the same. Dr. Surendranath D^isgupta gives abundant proof 
of his oceanic scholarship and Himalayan industry in the three 
monumental volumes of his history of Indian Philosophy while 
Professor M. Hiriyanna's shorter survey of the subject is, 
perhaps, the best one-volume study now available in English. 

JPtof^R N. Srinivasachari, a very good scholar and a 
writer with an adequate command of the English language, has 
published a number of books that seek to interpret Vedanta 
philosophy from the Visishtadvaita standpoint. His magnum 
opus is the recently published treatise, The Philosophy of 
Visishtadvaita ; his other works include Ramanujtis Idea of 
the infinite Self, Philosophy of Bhedabheda, Studies in Vedante, 


The Philosophy of the Beautiful and The Ethical Philosophy of 
the Gita. 

A few more names should close this section : Prof. R..B- 
Ranade's classic, A Constructive Survey of Upanishadic Philo- 
sophy, Di^Mahendranath Sjrcar's Hindu Mysticism and 
Eastern Lights, Babu Bhagawan Das's Hindu Ethics, _Sir Rus- 
turn ^^n\^^Jie_Religion of .the Good Life, D. M. Datta's 
Six Ways of Knowing, and Sir C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar's World 


JTJie..most original and outstanding of the Indo- Anglian 
philosophers is, however, Sri Aurobindo v Ghose. We have al- 
ready discussed his poetry in a previous chapter and have also 
referred to his prose writings and contributions to literary criti- 
cism. But to-day he is known to the civilized world principally 
as a philosopher and yogi. His great treatise, The Life Divine, 
which appeared serially in the Arya about twenty years ago 
has been recently published in book form and has been acc- 
laimed by Sir Francis Younghusband as the greatest book 
produced in our time. Sri Aurobindo's other books on 
philosophy and Yoga include The Synthesis of Yoga, The 
Essays on the Gita, The Mother, The Riddle of This World, 
The Secret of the Veda and the commentary on Isha Upanishad. 

The Life Divine, a massive treatise of about fifteen hun-, 
jdred jpages, is, _among text-books on Metaphysics, the book 
par excellence. Members of different faiths, partisans of dif- 
ferent schools of philosophy, admirers of different world-figures 
like Plato, Hegel, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sankara, Ramanuja, 
all seem to find in The Life Divine a solution of some of their 
most obstreperous difficulties. It has therefore been not inaptly 
described by Dr. S. K. Maitra of the Benares Hindu University 


as the last arch in the " bridge of thoughts and sights which 
spans the history of Aryan culture". 

Sri^Aurobindo's Essays on the Gita. is ,.ano^r_imjportant 
contribution to philosophical literature. The Gita has been 
commented upon so frequently, so voluminously, from so many 
viewpoints, commented upon again so brilliantly and sojelte 
quently and so^persuasiyely, that it is astonishing that Sri Auro- 
bindo should nevertheless have succeeded irTmaking his thou- 
sand-page treatise not a whit superfluous, not a whit second- 
hand or disagreeably obvious, but rather a radiant re-evocation 
of the philosophia perennis embodied in the Lord's Song. 

The Synthesis of Yoga and The Secret of the Veda, massive 
sequences both, are not available in book form. Philosopher 
or Yogi, Sri Aurobindo is the prophet of the Life Divine, essen- 
tially a creative spirit. His message can be summarized thus 
in the words of Dr. Mahendranath Sircar : 

" The philosophy of Aurobindo utilizes the Divine Shakti 
to the utmost and establishes a race on earth which will make 
it full of supramental wisdom and supramental power. This 
new race a race free from all conventions of life will carry 
with it Peace, Power and Plenty. This is the promise of 
his philosophy". 

It is clear, then, that Sri Aurobindo's message is addressed to 
the West no less than to the East, and he is truly the Prophet 
of To-day and To-morrow. 



Although the printing press had been introduced into India 

about the middle of the eighteenth century (in the sixties, to 

"EeTprecise),jthe first "native" newspaper was started only in 

1818. Anglo-Indian journalists had already done considerable 


spade-work, and now men like Raja Rammohan Roy came 
forward to lend their support to indigenous journalism. The 
abolition, in 1833, of the much abused system of licenses and 
other restrictions helped the press to breathe a healthy air and 
" native " journalism was now well under way. 

And yet all was not well with Indian journalism. Most 
Indian newspapers led a hand-to-mouth existence, lacking 
funds, lacking readers, lacking competent staffs. The institution^ 
of the first Indian universities in 1857 led to the gradual 
spread 6T education ; and the next two or three decades saw 
ffie emergence of a new class the " educated " class of readers 
who were eager to read and occasionally even to write to 
these newspapers. JTowards the close of the nineteenth century, 
there were in all 647 periodicals in Bengal, 200 in Bombay and 
ill in Madras. 

As is only to be expected, the vernacular newspapers are 
far more numerous than the English ones ; but Indians have 
shown and are showing distinctive ability in English journa- 
lism. Mr. G. T. Garrett points out in The Legacy of India : 

11 In considering the Indian writers in English a tribute 
must be paid to the extraordinary brilliance with which cer- 
tain Indian races overcome linguistic difficulties. Bengalis, 
Chitpavan and Kashmiri Brahmins, Madrassis, and Parsis 
have produced a succession of capable journalists and publi- 
cists, who have served the nationalist cause by writing clear 
and trenchant English prose Tilak, Gokhale, Aurobindo 
Ghose, Ranade, Surendranath Bannerjee, R. C. Dutt, N. C. 
Kelkar, Phirozshah Mehta, and a host of other writers have 
shown that Indian English can develop into a powerful 
weapon of attack". 

No Indian can, after all, feel really at home in an alien language 
like English ; but the Indo-Anglian journalists of about fifty 


years ago looked upon English as an unescapable and necessary 
evil, and many of them made a virtue^ of this necessity. As 
J?abu Sambhunath Mukherji, himself a pioneer in Indo-Anglian 
journalism, explained in the course of a letter to Mr. Meredith 
Townshend : 

" We might have created one of the finest literatures in 
the world without making any impression in the camp of 
our British rulers and of course without advancing our poli- 
tical or even social status. Nay, the truth is we have created 
a literature and a very respectable literature it is. All that 
copiousness and all that wealth, however, has not helped 
us one whit or rescued us from degradation. Hence we are 
compelled to journalism and authorship in a foreign tongue, 
to make English a kind of second vernacular to us, if possible 

we, who write in English, have to make this sacrifice 

for the fatherland ". 

The aim of the Indo-Anglian journalist is generally two- 
fold : firstly, to make an appeal to the Indian intelligentsia 
and, secondly, to interpret India's aspirations and to voice forth 
her grievances for the enlightenment of the Britisher. The best 
of the Indo-Anglian journalists have always played this dual 
role with ^consummate tact and surprising ability. Since the 
arrival of Mahatma Gandhi on the Indian political scene twenty- 
five years ago, vernacular journalism has also made great strides 
and the number of vernacular journals has increased and is 
increasing at a welcome rate ; but the vogue for Indo-Anglian 
journalism has shown no signs of decline either ! 

The early Indo-Anglian journalists had necessarily to be 
all-rounders in public life politicians, editors, lawyers, teachers, 
litterateurs, often all at once ! They were generally cast on a 
heroic mould, they were very Titans. The mere names tell a 
Titanic tale : Rammohan Roy and Harish Chandra Mukherji, 
Kristo Das Pal and Sambhunath Mukherji, Motilal Ghose and 


Narendranath Sen, Subramania Aiyer and Sankaran Nair, 
Vijiaraghavachari and Kasturiranga lyengar, Karunakara 
Menon and K. Natarajan, Dadabhai Naoroji and Behramji 
Malabari, Mahadev Ranade and Narayan Chandavarkar, Lok- 
manya Tilak and Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Pandit Bishen Nara- 
yen and Ganga Prasad Verma. Writing of these and their 
contemporaries, Mr. N. C. Kelkar, himself a very distinguished 
Marathi and Indo- Anglian journalist, remarked over forty years 
ago : " This is a galaxy of journalists who have by their bril- 
liance shed a light of glory upon their country and who, under 
more favourable conditions of political life, would certainly 
have come up to a higher level as publicists than they at 
present occupy ". 

Thanks to the endeavours of some of these great journalists 
and their successors, we have to-day a number of first-rate 
Indian-owned and Indian-managed English newspapers and 
periodicals in the country, which are quite as good as their 
Anglo-Indian contemporaries. The Amrita Bazar Patrika of 
Calcutta, the Hindu of Madras, the Bombay Chronicle, the 
Leader of Allahabad, the ^Tribune of Lahore, and, among week- 
ly and monthly journals, the Modern Review, the Hindustan 
Review, the Irtdian Review, the Artyan Path, the Indian Social 
Reformer, the Mahratta, the Twentieth Century, and the New 
Review, all are doing very meritorious work in their respective 
fields or areas. 

In India, editors have almost as a rule been also front- 
rank politicians ; and often politicians have turned to journalism 
in order to propagate their particular jsospejis- Among these 
journalist-politicians of the past two or three decades, we may 
mention Mahatma Gandhi of Young India and Harijan, Lala 
Lajpat Rai of the People, Maulana Muhammad Ali of Com- 
rade, T. Prakasan of Swarajya, C. R. Das of the Forward, 
Subhas Chandra Bose of the Forward Bloc, M. N. Roy of 


the Independent India, K. M. Munshi of the Social Welfare* 
and Pattabhi Sitaramayya of the fanmabhumi ; some of these 
papers are now defunct, but they had a tremendous vogue at 
one time. 

On the other hand, the late Ramananda Chatterjee and 
Sir C. Y. Chintamani, Pothan Joseph and K. Natarajan, Syed 
Abdulla Brelvi and A. D. Mani, K. Iswara Dutt and S. Nata- 
rajan are journalists first and politicians (if at all) only after- 
wards. Ramananda Chatterjee made the Modern Review 
unquestionably the most important and weighty monthly journal 
in India, and one of the best anywhere ; the late Sir C. Y. 
Chintamani, migrating from Andhra Desha to Allahabad, made 
the Leader a power in North India. Pothan Joseph has been 
moving from place to place and was lately the editor of 
the Dawn, the organ of the Muslim League, but his editorials 
are as trenchant as ever and his " Over a Cup of Tea " continues 
to delight thousands of readers all over India ; the Natarajans, 
father and son, have made the Indian Social Reformer their 
life vocation, although the father once created a diversion by 
occupying for a while the editorial sanctum of the Indian Daily 
Mail ; Brelvi of the Bombay Chronicle is a Nationalist Muslim 
in politics and is one of the most competent Indo-Anglian 
journalists of the day ; A. D. Mani started as a free-lance in 
Madras, but he is now the editor of the Hitavada of Nagpur ; 
and Iswara Dutt, formerly of the Leader, is the founder-editor 
of the Twentieth Century, but for a few months he edited 
also that excellent journal, the Week-End. 


Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha is a class by himself. A veteran 
publicist, a versatile scholar, a distinguished member of the 
bar, a former Executive Councillor, till lately Vice-Chancellor 


of the Patna University, Dr. Sinha has also edited for a period 
of forty years the Hindustan Review, a monthly journal with 
a long and meritorious record of public service. Dr. Sinha 
shares with the great Victorians a toughness of fibre and the 
stamina for sustained and purposeful endeavour ; he has played 
the roles of lawyer, legislator, executive councillor, social refor- 
mer, educationist and humanist with earnestness, integrity and 
conspicuous ability ; and he has all along known the " import- 
ance of being earnest." Dr. Sinha's editorials, book- reviews,* and 
other contributions reveal hisj^rsatility of approach and his 
astonishing scholarship. He has faith, he believes in himself 
and in the world, he believes in work and in relaxation, in 
beauty and in the stern realities of life. He is equally interested 
in the poetry of Sir Mahomed Iqbal, the personality of Deva- 
mitta Dharmapala, the satires of John Dryden, and in the 
beauties of Kashmir. Several of his important contributions to 
the Hindustan Review are included in the recently published 
A Selection from the Speeches and Writings of Sachchidananda 
Sinha and deserve to be read with care. 

The late Nagendranath Gupta was another outstanding 
journalist who was at home as much in literature as in politics ; 
and some of his most characteristic work is included in The 
Place of Man and Other Essays. St. NihaJ _Singb is a free- 
lance of genius and his career has been a long and very distin- 
guished one. Mr. K. Ramakotiswara Rau has made his Tri- 
veni a respectedTugh^class journal devoted to the interpreta- 
tion of the main currents in India's cultural life. The PrabuA- 
dha Bharata and The Vedanta Kesari are both devoted to 
philosophy and are conducted efficiently by the Swamis of the 
Ramakrishna Asram. Of late, the Indo-Anglians are also pro- 
ducing popular journals devoted to the worlds of sport, cinema, 
finance, and what not. Columnists too are now in evidence 
"here and there, and some of them "Dim" of the Bombay 


Chronicle and " Little Man " of the Bombay Sentinel are very 
good indeed. 

No doubt, as Mr. Garrett has pointed out, " polemical writ- 
ing can only with great difficulty reach the level of literature, 
and very little is likely to survive from the vast mass of politi- 
cal and economic articles and books which have been produced 
in India during the last half-century " ; but this is true, not 
only of Indo-Anglian, but of any living literature. A journalist 
is required to live for the moment and to assume a sort of 
omniscience ; and the journalists of an earlier generation and 
even many journalists to-day are compelled to battle against a 
variety of adverse circumstances like poor pay, insecurity of 
tenure, the frowns of the powers that be, and the uncertain 
conditions engendered by civil disobedience movements and 
consequent repressive acts on the part of the Government. And 
yet the Indo-Anglian journalists have bravely carried on through 
fair weather and foul, and hence they are entitled to the 
gratitude of their countrymen. 

One^of the greatest of Indo-Anglian journalists, Aurobindo 
Ghose contributed^ a series of articles to the Tiidu PraHosh 
when he was hardly twenty-one or twenty-two ; these were 
sparklingly original and scintillated with brilliance. Later on 
he became the editor of the Bandemataram during the " anti- 
partition " days ; he soon made the paper a power in the 
country. The paper especially the " Weekly Bandemataram " 
found its way to every patriotic home and millions respond- 
ed to the gospel of nationalism propagated by the paper. Wit 
and sarcasm, logic and scholarship, humour and irony, poetry 
and eloquence, all came handy to Sri Aurobindo, and hence 
'some at least of his contributions to the Bandemataram deserve 
to rank as literature. Subsequently he also edited the Karma- 
yogin and the Arya ; IrT these Sri Aurobindo is no journalist 
3T7atheFT^rophei "and", in the Arya, a philosopher and a 



yogi. Many of the Kavmayogin and Arya articles and se- 
quences have been reprinted in book form and they prove that 
Sri Aurobindo is a master of eloquent, persuasive and beautiful 

Few Indian newspapers publish satisfactory "Literary 
Pages " ; we have likewise hardly any really satisfying week- 
end newspapers like the London Observer or Sunday Times ; 
nor have we any Punch or even Tit Bits ; but let us be thank- 
ful for what the Indo-Anglian journalists have already given 
us, for they have truly given us the best that they could give. 
It is for others of the present generation to go one better if 
they can. 


As for Indo-Anglian lawyers and jurists, their name is 
legion ; but a few stand out head and shoulders above the 
crowd. We can merely mention the names of eminent Indian 
judges like SbJT^ Muthusami Ayyar, Dwaraknath Mitter. 
Mahadev Govind Ranade, Sir Subramania Ayyar, Sir V. 
Bhashyam lyengar, Syed Ameer Ali, Syed Mahmood, Sir 
Ashutosh Mukherji, Sir Narayan Chandavarkar, Sir Shah 
Sulaiman, V. Krishnaswami Iyer, and Dinshah F. Mulla ; and, 
among those still with us, Sir Abdur RahinvSir S. t Varada- 
chariar, and M. R. Jayakar come readily to one's mind. Indian 
judges have filled with distinction the highest places and some 
like Sir Subramania Ayyar and Sir Shadi Lai have shed lustre 
on the office of Chief Justiceship itself while Jayakar, Ameer 
Ali, Mulla, Shah Sulaiman and Varadachariar have earned a 
great reputation either as members of the Judicial Committee 
of the Privy Council or as 'Judges of the Indian Supreme Cburt. 

The present writer is not competent to pronounce an 
opinion on the work of the Indian judges ; but the considered 
opinion of Sir Brojendra Mitten sometime Law Member of 


the Government of India and later its Advocate-General, is 
most enlightening : 

" By learning, knowledge of the feelings and habits of 
the people, independence and integrity, Indian judges have 
maintained the- highest traditions of justice. Their greatest 
achievement has naturally been in the realm of the personal 
law of the Indians. They have illumined the obscure, eluci- 
dated cardinal principles, reconciled differences and helped 
IrTtTie progressive growth of ancient laws through enlighten- 
ed interpretation. At a time when few of the old texts were 
available to the uninitiated through translations, they ex- 
plored original sources and brought to light the structure and 
organization of the different systems of law which governed 
the divers communities of India. Their service to juris- 
prudence has been of great value." 

And Mr. Whitly Stokes, in his general introduction to the 
Anglo-Indian Cedes, has given special praise to the judgments 
of Muthusami Ayyar and Syed Mahmood and has concluded 
his appreciation with the significant remark : " For the subtle 
races that produce such lawyers no legal doctrine can be too 
refined, no legal machinery can be too elaborate." 

Apart from the treasures of legal wisdom contained in the 
weighty judgments of these eminent jurists, these judgments 
at any rate the best among themare also interesting to the 
historian of Indo-Anglian literature. The " decisions " are 
invariably preceded by elaborate historical, sociological, politi- 
cal or even philosophical discussions and sometimes these are 
couched in more than mere workmanlike style. Judges are no 
doubt sometimes long-winded, confused, or simply dull ; but 
the great judge invariably raises even the discussion of knotty 
points of law to the level of literature. 

Some eminent lawyers have also given us legal treatises on 
the different branches of the law. Legal luminaries like DinsEaE 


Mulla and Hari Singh Gour have published valuable legal 
books that are deemed indispensable to the lawyer and the 
judge ; S. Srinivasa lyengar's new edition of Mayne's classic 
exposition of Hindu Law is itself a classic ; and the lectures 
given under the Tagore Law Foundation are often of a very 
high quality ; all these give abundant proof of creative acti- 
vity on the part of Indo-Anglian lawyers and jurists. 



Many of the journalist-politicians mentioned in the pre 
vious chapter have also been effective speakers. Indeed, since" 
the last quarter of the nineteenth century, India has produced 
a large number of eloquent and brilliant orators, who have 
usejl the English tongue with astonishing ease arfd dexterity. 
^ Among the orators of a generation or two ago, Dadabhai 
Naoroji, W. C. Bonnerjee, Phirozeshah Mehta, Rash Behari 
Ghose, Bepin Chandra Pal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala 
Lajpat Rai, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Motilal Nehru, San- 
karan Nair, V. Krishnaswami Iyer and men of like calibre 
made the English language their own and elaborated their 
arguments with all the arts of the Victorian orators. J Many 
of them presided over the deliberations of one or more sessions 
of the Indian National Congress; and the presidential and 
other addresses delivered in the Congress constitute an inspir- 
ing store-house of Indo-Anglian oratory. 

The late C. R. Das was a great orator. His forensic elo- 
quence gained the admiration of the bench and the bar alike. 
When he plunged into politics, his moving voice and stirring 
words were heard from many a Congress and Swarajist plat- 
form. His presidential address at the Gaya Congress ^and his 


Faridpore Speech are justly famous. The following is the pero- 
ration of his Gaya Presidential Address : 

"Be it yours to wage a spiritual warfare so that the 
victory, when it comes, does not debase you, nor tempt you. 
to retain the power of government in your own hands. But 
if yours is to be a spiritual warfare, your weapons must be. 
those of the spiritual soldier. Anger is not for you, hatred is 
not for you ; nor for you is pettiness, meanness or false- 
hood. For you is the hope onEwiTand the confidence of 
the morning, and for you is the song that was sung of ^Titan, 
chained and imprisoned but the champion of man, in the 
Greek fable : 

To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite : 
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night ; 
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent ; 
To love, and bear ; to hope till Hope creates 
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates ; 
Neither to change, nor talter, nor repent ; 
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be 
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free ; 
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire and Victory." 

This was the peroration of a formal address ; but Chittaran- 
jan's extempore speeches were equally sustained by his head no 
less than by his heart, and he was ever a careering Achilles on 
the public or council platform. 

Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Srinivasa Sastri are in a class 
apart : Gokhale, " calm, unagitated, never seeking to adorn his 
style, bu^ overwhelming his opponents by an array of figures 
and a wealth of information, patiently collected", and Srini- 
vasa Sastri, " honey-tongued, the very embodiment of sweet 
resa^riablene^^ rtefity modulated words flow 

in rounded periods" ; Gokhale and Sastri, master and pupil, 
humanists and teachers both, who tried to conduct politics 


without rancour and who have given their countrynien the 
ideals of unselfish service and enlightened patriotism ! 
Gokhale's " Farewell to Fergusson College " is a jndlgjy and 
beautiful piece of eloquence and the orator here wears his 
heart upon his sleeve ; but Gokhale was always whatever the 
occasion a persuasive and thoughtful speaker. " The style is 
the man "-and the man fully revealed himself in his public 

Srinivasa Sastri has been rightly described by the Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica^> "the greatest Indian orator of his day". 
His lectures on the Life of Gokhale and on the Rights and 
Duties of Indian Citizens are couched in a language of disarm- 
ing simplicity and purity. His major addresses in India and 
abroad are models of Jimpid and moving eloquence. Unruffled 
and self-possessed, Srinivasa Sastri develops his themes rather 
like an artist ; the exordium is quiet but confident, the struc- 
ture of argument isTclose but never dull or tough, and the 
peroration is convincing and effective but not loud or flamboy- 
antX front-line statesman of India and the Empire, Sastri 
Is'af his best when he Jftrives to reach the height of a political 
argument, but as a specimen of his mature oratorial style we 
prefer to extract the following paragraph from his address on 
" Birthright " : 

* "With the din of a disastrous war all round and the 
threatened crash of most human values, it is not wholly idle, 
nay, it is* the compulsion of our angujsh, to desire that the 
improvements we cherish should be acquired by methods of 
peace, understanding and mutual adjustment. The path of 
human progress need not be marked for ever by blood and. 
wreckage. The way of war, though it be social or civil war, 
"is notfthe way we should tread for the attainment of even 
our highest aims. I don't avow myself an extreme pacifist 
or a thorough-going votary of non-violence. But I am far 


on the road. Like the Mahatma I believe that force will 
never end force, that what is won by force is apt to be 
lost by force and that that alone will be a lasting gain to 
our race which we secure by ways of peace, by ways of har- 
mony and by ways of mutual help and mutual love." 


The Gandhi era in politics has thrown up a number of 
orators, in English noTess tRari In" the various regional langu- 
liges, especially in Hindi. Mahatmaji generally prefers to speak 
in Hindi or Gujarati ; but when he does speak in English, he 
is a master of the spoken word. He speaks in an even voice ; 
the words come naturally, effortlessly, and the magic of his 
personality invests even his casual utterances with a prophetic 
fervour and intensity. His historic " defence " at his trial in 
1922 is one of the peaks of his effortless eloquence. By that 
memorable speech Mahatma Gandhi shunted (to quote Mr. 
N. C. Kelkar) " the train of the trial from the track of vulgar 
terror to that of refined sublimity ". We shall, however, ex- 
tract here a passage from the~~equally famous "Sermon on 
God " in which Mahatmaji is truly seen to be a godly man who 
is ever in search of God : 

"There js an indefinable mysterious Power that per- 
vades everything. I feel it, though I do not see it. It Is" 
this unseen power which makes itself felt and that defies all 
proof because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my 
senses. It transcends the senses because it is possible to reason 
out the existence of God only to a limited extent. . . . God, 
to be God, must rule the heart and transform it. He must 
express Himself in every smallest act of Hisjyotary. This 
can be done only through a definite realization more real 
than the five senses can ever produce. ... I know, too, that 
I shall never know God if I do not wrestle with and against 
evil even at the cost of life itself, I amjfortified in this 


belief by my own humble and limited experience. The purer 
I try to become, the nearer to God I feel myself to be. How 
much more should I be near to Him when my faith is not 
a mere apology as it is to-day, but has become as immovable 
as the Himalayas and as white as the snows on their peaks." 
There are literally hundreds of speeches in which Mahatmaji, 
by scorning the arts of the mere rhetorician, scores again and 
again ; he is never at a loss for the precise and yet familiar 
word, and it is out the thin, dry twigs of everyday speech that 
he ignites with such artless art the fire of his moving and sway- 
ing eloquence. 

The late Pandit Motilal Nehru was an orator of eminence 
and many of his speeches on the floor of the Legislative As- 
sembly for instance, his speeches on the Public Safety Bill 
and on the resolution advocating boycott of the Simon Com- 
mission were finished rhetorical improvisations, in which 
humour and sarcasm, logic and learning, pride and patriotism, 
all were thrown together to fuse into first-rate eloquence. His 
Congress presidential and other addresses were no less inspir- 
ing and colourful. Motilal had often to cross swords with 
Mr. Jinnah on the floor of the Legislative Assembly and their 
duels were in the nature of the clash between flint and steel ; 
m those occasions Roman met Roman indeed, MotilaTs epi- 
jratns and Jinnah's repartees were of the blitzkrieg pattemranff 
thrilled and awed the benches and the galleries ; the tense and 
sxotic atmosphere of the Assembly became more tense and 
*xotic during those jneredible moments and verbal missiles whiz- 
zed past the astonished spectators, not seldom pregnant with 
ightning and thunder. "*""" 

As for^ Mr. M. A. Jinnah, he has been a fighter and 
speaker all his life. He has been literally a roaring antf "com- 
bative power in the law courts, legislative assemblies, and, 
more recently, on the platform of the Muslim League. 


tuous and emotional, he could jjway audiences and rouse them 
to a frenzy of shouting and waving of hands ; with ready wit, 
smashing invective and convincing logic, he could turn the 
trend of debate in any direction he likes ; he could negotiate, 
make compromises if possible, ^haggle interminably if necessary, 
and thus ever play his cards with the consummate ability of 
a master. Speech with Mr. Jinnah is the very oxygen of bis 
political success. It is in his incredible orations that the whole 
man demagogue and patriot and lawyer and prophet of 
Pakistan is fully revealed, dazzling us with his cocksure- 
nesses, kindling his listeners to action, painting his Utopias in 
vague yet fascinating colours. Like Motilal, Jinnah too can 
be a stern debater if he wants, and can always make a point 
with terrible force. 

Like Mr. Jinnah and Pandit Motilal, the late S. Srinivasa 
lyengar also was a leading lawyer-politician and was a con- 
spicuous figure in the third Legislative Assembly. _He Jwas 
Pandit MotilalV " deputy " in the Swarajya Party, but he 
always spoke with the authority of a super-subtle constitution- 
al lawyer and the fervour and emotional intensity of a true 
and fearless patriot. Jljs^oratory was intellectual rather than 
graceful, torrential rather than flowing ; his sentences were* 
often short, and jwithx and ^grammatical, but he too could 
hit back with vigour and accuracy if the need arose. Some of 
his speeches in the Assembly, his Congress presidential speech 
and other formal addresses, many of his public speeches dur- 
ing the last two years of his life, all show Srinivasa lyengar's 
quick and forceful thinking, his severely beautiful logic, his 
fervent idealism and patriotism, and his irranitij^ble and 
lovable Humanity. We extract here this small passage ,on the 
strength of true Faith : 

" Let us not forgiet, in the fever of political controversy, 
that the strength of each religion is derived from God and 


is rooted in the souls of Prahladas). Not all the tortures 
of Torquemada nor all the burning at the stakes nor all 
other forms of persecution have been able to destroy the 
mystic quality of the human soul. Neither Hinduism nor 
Islam derives or requires strength either from the present 
or from any future government. Both stand far, far above 
- Swaraj, which is not comparable to them. Neither foreign 
governments nor self-governments, neither democracies nor 
autocracies, can destroy that seed of faith which is in every 
one of us, that inspired interpretation of the Universe to 
which one clings for guidance and solace in this world and 
for salvation in the next". 


N The third Legislative Assembly (1927-1930) heard also 
the speeches of veteran orators like Malaviya and Lajpat Rai, 
Kdkar and Jayakar ; there were also younger men like 
Shunmukham Chetty and Goswami. The fourth Legislative 
Assembly brought to prominence Bhulabhai Desai and S. 
Satyamurti, Cowasji Jehangir and Govind Vallabh Pant, C. P. 
Ramaswami Aiyar and A. Ramaswami Mudaliar, all orators 
of distinction for one or more commendable qualities. 


Under the Constitution of 1935, the provincial Legislative 
Assemblies started working and many more parliamentarians 
found their vocation. Both within the Madras Legislature and 
on Congress platforms, Mr. C. Rajagopalachari's dialectical 
brilliance has tantalized audiences many a time ; and atHhis 
best, RajagopalacharTor "Rajaji' (as he is universally called) 
is a very good sipeaker indeed, forbiddingly unruffled, quite 
sure of himself, equipped always with an inexhaustible armoury 
of parables that tnore often than not unerringly hit the bull's 
ye~to the discomfiture of his detractors. 


Like Rajaji, many of the Congress front-rank leaders are 
also very good orators when they choose to be. Rajendra 
Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Sarojini 
Naidu, Vallabhbhai Patel, all can deliver the goods without 
the loss of " one poor jcruple " ; but sometimes they are con- 
tent to be merely jemphatic and bold, scorning the graces "of 
restraint, reasonableness and humour, and pinning their faith 
on the strength of a party majority rather than on the granite 
strength of persuasion and argument. Only Sarojini Naidu 
never fails as a platform-speaker. Be the theme ever so obvi- 
ous, be her assertions ever so stale and emphatic, yet is she 
enough of a poet even in her most prosaic moments to make 
the trite appear to be a thing of wonder and wild surmise, to 
make human and patriotic hearts beat in response t# her 
thnUigg words and ^insinuating perorations. Her mere presence 
is sufficient to redeem the proceedings of even the dullest con- 
ference imaginable ! 

In one sense, however, modern oratory is on a lower level 
than the oratory of yesterday and of the day before ; and this 
is, perhaps, as true of Britain and other countries as of India. 
To-day audiences cannot sit through a four-hour speech, 
whether it is delivered by a Gladstone or a Disraeli or by a 
Malaviya or a Muhammad Ali ; we have no patience to listen 
to the sermons of a Vivekananda or of a Ram Tilth ; we want 
si^eechi^and even the newspaper reports of speeches in a 
tabloid form. Moreover, audiences to-day are far-flung and 
"vastly" bigger ; and all sorts of people now-a-days lush to 
listen to public sipeeches. As a result, the modern orator- 
be he a Roosevelt or a Churchill or a Jinnah or a Jawaharlal 
has to take care that he does not talk above the heads of his 
audience. Things have to be put briefly and simply ; there 
is no room for stylistic elaborations and feats of sheer argu- 
mentation ; there is no room either for recondite quotations 


from four or five languages, for crescendoes and diminuend- 
oes, for carefully prepared effects and perorations ! Modern 
oratory, on the face of it, is a somewhat " democratic " and 
tame affair. 

Even so, the modern orator somehow holds his own. 
Neither the loudspeaker nor the radio has quite discomfited 
him ; rather has he turned these very circumstances of his 
limitation to his own profit. Preseot-day Indian orators 
like a C. R. Reddy, a Jayakar, a Radhakrishnan, a Jinnah, a 
Rajagopalachari, -a Jawaharlal Nehru and others have learned 
the art of swaying the heartsi of thousands or even millions 
of their countrymen. A loud voice is not necessary to-day ; 
menacing gestures are actually out of place; clear articula- 
BoETand a command over the resources of language* are the 
pSmary requisites; and, above all, an alert mental forge at 
work ; and our great Indo-Anglian orators possess them all. 


For the rest, the Indo-Anglians may be said to have at- 
tempted all kinds of useful literature and to have attempted 
them with success. Of writers on education, we can men- 
tion many names, beginning with Rammohan Roy and (for 
the time ' being) ending with T. N, Siqueira ; we have also 
good educational journals like the Educational Review and 
Teaching. Every year, educationists and others are invited 
to deliver the convocation addresses in the universities or to 
preside over the various educational conferences organized all 
over India ; the addresses are uneven and often of poor 
quality, but now and then a C. R. Reddy or a Radhakrishnan 
or a C. V. Raman or a Tej Bahadur Sapru or an Amaranatha 
Jha or a Mirza Ismail strikes a new or unexpected note, and 
a formal address acquires the dignity of literature. But such 


memorable pronouncements are no more than the splendid ex- 
ceptions that prove the rule of unesoapable m^iocritj^ 

Of writers on political and constitutional subjects, we 
may mention Tej Bahadur Sapru, P. S. Sivaswami Aiyar, K. 
M. Panikkar, N. D. Varadachari, A. Rangaswami lyengarand 
Dr. Zacharias ; Mr. M. Ruthnaswami's The Making of the 
State is a creditable contribution to the subject ; S. Srinivasa 
lyengar's Problems of Democracy in India and Stalemate and 
Reorganization are the stimulating essays of a constructive 
statesman ; Shelvankar's Ends are Means is an effective reply 
to Aldous Huxley's Ends and Means ; and Dr. Ambedkar's 
Thoughts on Pakistan is a conscientious and thorough piece of 

Likewise, economists like Benoy Kumar Sarkar and 
JRadhakamal Mukherji, K. T. Shah and P. A. Wadia ; scien- 
tists like J. C. Bose, P. C. Ray, and C. V. Raman ; writers 
like H. L. Kaji and Minoo Masani who have made even 
Geography a fascinating subject ; all have successfully bent 
the apparently intractable English language to their own use. 
An address by J, C. Bose or by C. V. Raman is a veritable 
treat, not only because of the highly specialized knowledge it 
attempts to popularize, but also because of its sense of form 
and literary race. And Minoo Masani's Our India has de- 
servedly become a best-seller and a children's favourite. 

We have few Indo-Anglian writers who, like a Belloc or 
an E. V. Lucas, attempt to delineate the treasures of sight and 
sound in our variegated country. Mr. A. S. Wadia gave us 
some years ago a very good book on Kashmir ; and Dr. Sachchi- 
dananda Sinha, now full of honour and years, has just publish- 
ed a sumptuous volume of five hundred pages entitled, Kashmir: 
the Play-Ground ofi Asia. You may call it an anthology of 
choice verses culled from many writers ; or a punctiliously pre- 
cise guide-book ; or a temperamental description of the 


beauties and bounties of Kashmir ; or an authoritative mono- 
graph on Kashmiri politic^ and social life ; or an up-to-date 
descriptive bibliography of the literature on Kashmir. Well, 
it is all these things, but it is also something that transcends 
these particular descriptions ; it is, in fact, an v act of jadora- 
tion L an inspiring homage to the " Land of Lalla Rookh " 



We have now come to the end of our survey -a partial 
and personal survey, if you will of the varied contributions 
of Indians to English literature. JFor nearly one hundred years 
Indians have tried to achieve self-expression through the 
medium of English and they haveV again and again, triumphed 
over its seeming intractability and produced poems, novels, 
essays, learned treatises, memoir* and monographs hardly dis- 
tinguishable from similar productions of authentic English 
writers. In Professor E. E. Speight's words, the tnany Indians 
men and women who have written in English stand "as 
symbols of a power of adaptation which is so much more as- 
tonishing because it comes from a people who in other ways 
are so conservative ". 

There is no need either to be very proud of our achieve- 
ments in the domain of Indo- Anglian literature or to be foolish- 
ly ashamed of them. That Indians were obliged to study 
English was an unpleasant necessity ; and Indians, be it said 
to their credit, have made a virtue of that necessity. If the 
study of English has weakened our love for our respective 
mother tongues, the fault, dear Brutus, is not with English 
but in ourselves. English occupied and still occupies a domi- 


nant position in the curriculum, not because it is the language 
of our rulers, but because it has successfully functioned as a 
link between the different linguistic areas in India and between 
India and .the rest of the civilized world. 

On the other hand, our vernacular literatures have them- 
selves greatly benefited by their living contact with English 
literature and this cross-fertilization has helped to usher in a 
new Indian renaissance. One is not a slave simply because 
one likes a foreign language in addition to one's own ; and one 
may be an adept in Tamil or Hindi and yet be a slave of 
slaves. We can easily make and we often do makea fetish 
of our sentimental objection to the English language and litera- 
ture. As Dr. M. R. Jayakar once pointed out : 

" It will be a mistake to allow your political dislike of 
British rule to come in the way of your studying English 
literature with appreciation and good will. You will never 
make any progress, if your attitude is one of hatred, con- 
tempt or abhorrence for the culture of the people whose 
literature you are studying. You have to get over youi 
political dislikes, if any, and concentrate your mind upon 
the beauty of the literature you read. When in the field 
of literature you are not a politician and have no political 
or social antipathies". 

These words were originally addressed to a group of c )llege 
students, but they have a message for us all. 

Let us by all means cultivate our own mother tongues, 
enrich our own indi^nous literatures, and make the rest of 
the world respect them and ever* get intimately acquainted with 
them ; but there is no sense in putting the clock back and 
banishing the English language from our midst. It is certainly 
desirable that our mother tongues should become 
the media of instruction even at the university stages : and 
when this desire is realized, as it must be sooner or later, 


English will automatically cease to have the importance it 
enjoys to-day. But it must continue to have an important 
place in the curriculum. In the words of Professor Atnaranatha 
Jha, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Allahabad : 

" English should continue to be a second language. 

It is the international language now. It has been and can 
continue to be the source of delight and inspiration. It 
enables us to live close to some great minds. There need 
be no antagonism between English and our own languages. 
We shall develop our literatures, but we shall continue to 
get all the help we can to set back the frontiers of darkness, 
to listen and speak so that humanity may go on re-creat- 
ing itself". 


While some critics condemn the Indo-Anglians because 
they are supposed to be symbols of our slavery, others point 
out that most of the productions of the Indo-Anglians are 
poor in quality and from this jump to the conclusion that 
Indians should not attempt self-expression in English. 

So long as human nature is what it is, second-rate and 
third-rate and nth rate writers there must be in England and 
in America, and not only in India. Hundreds of writers are 
mfentioned in the bibliographies of English literature, and yet 
how many of them are really read to-day? How many of 
the " masterpieces " announced to-day in the literary journals 
are likely to escape oblivion a decade hence ? 

Moreover, it is wrong to assume that an Indian who 
writes bad English verse is sure somehow to write first-rate 
Tamil or Bengali or Kannada poetry. True poetry springs 
from within ; and if only darkness or chaos or mere chafLin- 
habits the writer's mind and soul, he can no more achieve 
glorious self-expression in his mother tongue than in an alien 


language. Other things remaining the same, one's own mother 
tongue should come more naturally to one than an alien 
language like English ; and, as a matter of fact, in the future 
as in the past most Indians will write only in their own mother 
tongues. But some will still woo English, fully aware of the 
perils confronting their paths; it is not for us to condemn 
them purely on a priori grounds. Nothing succeeds like suc- 
cess and nothing fails like failure : this paramount law will 
regulate the literary activities of Indo-Anglians as well as those 
of other classes! of Indian men of letters. 

Another criticism often advanced against the Indo- 
Anglians is that their English is not pure enough. It is no 
doubt inevitable that vernacularisms should creep into the 
language of the Indo-Anglians. An Indo-Anglian may never 
be quite able to achieve perfect mastery in English idiom; 
in other words, Indo-Anglian English may never be wholly 
indistinguishable from King's English. But, then, why should 
it be ? For one thing, Mr. Bernard Shaw says that there is no 
such thing as "correct English"; for another, the Report of 
the Sadler Commission on the Calcutta University rightly 
points out : 

"We do not mean that the English of the Indian 
would necessarily be indistinguishable from that of the 
English-bom citizen. But it would be by special qualities 
and characteristics that it would be distinguished, not by 
incongruities and faults". 

Professor Amaranatha Jha is also in agreement with the above 
and is not frightened, as are more timid professors and pundits, 
by the term "Indian English"; on the contrary, he declares 
boldly : " A little courage, some determination, a wholesome 
respect for our own idioms, and we shall before long have a 
virile, vigorous Indian English". Be that as it may, it is 
^trange'TRafTnot English critics and scholars, but it is the 


Iiido-Anglian purists and (professors who are themselves in- 
habiting very vulnerable glass-houses that throw these 

stones at the Indo- Anglian practitioners of prose and verse ! 


In any case, it is to little purpose to discuss interminably 
whether Indians should or should not write in English. They 
have done so in the past, and they will do so in the future 
for a long time yet ; we are here, not in the realm of j>gecula: 
tign, but of facts and of recorded achievement. Granted that 
some Indians a good number of themare sure to write in 
English* in the future, can we offer helpful suggestions regard- 
ing the future of Indo- Anglian literature ? 

The Indian writer of to-day has to wage a prolonged war 
against a host of adverse circumstances, a war that, more 
ofteh than not, daunts and defeats him at last and anyhow 
leaves him exhausted! and ^bereft of all hope. We have few 
really enterprising and discriminating publishers, few acknow- 
ledged and competent reviewers, few high-class literary journals, 
and no adequately organized book trade. Many Indo-Anglian 
authors are obliged to publish their own books, arrange for 
their distribution, keep accounts, send out parcels, write all 
sorts of business letters, in short, to be by turns author, 
printer, publisher, hawker, accountant, book-seller, peon, and 
advertiser ! Under the circumstances, the average Indo- 
Anglian is content to print about one hundred copies of his 
books, present them to a few reviewers or friends, and wait 
for orders which never come. 

However, of late a few publishing firms like Tarapote- 
wala, New Book Company, Thackers, Karnatak Publishing 
House, Kitabistan, G. A. Natesan, Ram Narain Lai, Theosophic- 
al Publishing House, Kitab Mahal, Padma Publications, 
Signet Press, Minerva Book Depot, and a few others hav 


come into existence and are very active, more especially since 
the commencement of World War II. ' But even these publishers 
.are not always enterprising enough and are generally though 
not always unwilling to take reasonable risks. The tendency 
is always to produce books that will sell immediately or books 
that can be prescribed as school or college text-books. But a 
beginning has been made anyhow and even these war time 
publications have given a fillip to book production in India. 

It is besides creditable that on the form side also books 
published in India recently, notwithstanding the scarcity of 
paper and calico and strawboard, compare not unfavourably 
with books pfoSuced in America or in the continent of Europe. 
Again, some of our better organized newspapers and journals 
are now-a-days giving due importance to book-reviewing. 

We have thus clearly made a hopeful beginning : but much 
more remains to be done. We want enterprising publishers, 
magazines, and newspapers ; we want editors and publishers 
who will make the profession of letters a paying profession ; 
we want all-India organizations of authors, publishers, editors, 
and book-sellers ; we want reliable authors' agents who will 
relieve authors of the burden of the purely business side of 
authorship ; we want National Book Councils and annual All- 
India Book Exhibitions ; and, above all, we want authors, 
more and more of them, men and women itnbuegl with courage 
and faith, men and women who are prepared to see into the 
uttermost truth of things and to say the things they have seen 
for the edification of common humanity, men and women who 
have tficTvisloir'and the strength to be the leaders and law- 
givers of to-day and to-morrow. The night is heavy, but the 
dew-filled dawn is just round the corner ; the hour is preg- 
nant with possibilities and if only we do not Drove fals" to 
ourselves the future is ours, and it will be a glorious future 
indeed ! 




The war has proved both an immitigable curse and a 
blessing in disguise to Indian publishers, it has proved a 
curse because war-time controls of all sorts are trying to 
strangle the production and distribution of books and periodic- 
als. On the other hand, the war 1 has proved a blessing in dis- 
guise to Indian publishers because there is now a very real 
and still growing demand for new books. Thanks principally to 
the self-less jKndeayours of those of our men of letters who 
care for culture and literature more than for ready returns, Indo- 
Angfian journalism and Indo-Anglian literature are yet instru- 
ments of knowledge or engines of culture in these hectic, myopic, 
uncertain days. 

We have, no doubt, to judge the living quality of a litera- 
ture by its new poetry ; and the past twelve months have wit- 
nessed many new arrivals. At the same time, the veterans are 
also challengingly alive. Harindranath Chattopadhyaya's 
Blood of Stones is forged in the flaming fire of the poet's an- 
guish, and the book is topical without ceasing to be poetry ; and 
a poem like " The (pavement of Calcutta" is remorseless, grim 
and terribly articulate. Look on Undaunted, P. R. Kaikini's 
latest book of poems, reflects a tnind sensitive to the many tre- 
mors and quakes and marsh vapours in the contemporary world, 
and its disturbed and hurried accents partake of the uncertainty 
and feverishness of these frenzied days. Sardar K. M. Panik- 
kar's poem, The Waves of Thought, is a vigorous English ren- 
dering of his own Malayalam poem ; it is richly laden with 
memories, bitter-sweet memories that " in time blossom into 
many-hued flowers ". Nilima Devi's When the Moon Died is a 
very finely produced book, and its contents are not unworthy of 
the superb get-up ; Nilima is somewhat of a modernist poet 


but it is satisfactory to note that the emphasis is, not on 
"modernist", but on "ipoet". Hutnayun Kabir published his 
first book of poems about twelve years ago ; and he has enhanc- 
ed the reputation he then gained with his new bode, Mahatma 
and Other Poenqs. And Fyzee-Rahamin's Man and Other Poems 
contains quite a few good poems. 

Of the new arrivals, Nolini Kanta Gupta's To the Heights 
is a collection of inspiring lyrics that summon the questing soul 
to the sun-lit heights of Realization ; most of the forty-six pieces 
in the book are in free verse, but their urgency and poetic qu- 
ality are beyond disputation. Another new arrival, S. R. Donger- 
kery, is an inveterate traditionalist ; The Ivory Tower, his first 
book, has won the affection of many lovers of poetry by the im- 
mediacy of its appeal ; and, indeed, it is refreshing to come 
across a poet like Dongerkery who is content to see things with 
a child's wonder and reverence and who expresses his thoughts 
through home-spun felicities of sound and colour. 
Other new arrivals are K. S. Anantasubramony (Fledgeling 
Flights), R. V. M. G. Ramrau (No. ..Name and Visions) and 
M. J. Gordhandas (A Forlorn Hope). Besides, stray new poems 
by veterans like Armando Menezes, Bhushan, Adi K. Sect, 
Kaikini and Fyzee-Rahamin as also by freshers like Donger- 
kery, Cyril Modak, Wellington Figuereido and Kamala Donger- 
kery appear from time to time in the pages of our literary 
periodicals and give ample evidence of poetic activity. Of 
the new poets, Cyril Modak suggests great possibilities and 
his work is already rich in striking qualities. As a poet, he 
has a vision and a voice of his own. He is professedly a 
" progressive " poet, delighting more in the " bivouac of 
battle" than in "moonlit gardens". The underdog, the ex- 
ploited, the outcaste, these are the recurrent themes of his 
poetry. But he is a poet, not because his themes are progres- 
sive, but because his responses are quick and genuine and his 


articulation is strident and clear. His are truly poems of chal- 
lenge, they bite or bleed, and his rhythms and stanza patterns 
are virile with the virility of youth and rugged with the rug- 
gedness of Himalayan rocks. Occasionally, Cyril Modak for- 
gets himself in Love's pure rapture, and he then achieves an 
^nblemished note whose melod/ overpowers us with its nec- 
tarmess and joy. 

Many short stories are appearing in our Sunday newspapers 
and other magazines, and some of them by an R. K. Narayan, 
a Khooshie L. Punjabi or a Mrs. Shantabai, for instance 
seem destined to outlive the year in which they are first publi- 
shed. Of new novels, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas's Tomorrow is 
Ours deserves special mention ; although the creative artist is 
now and then smothered by the screen writer, his delineation 
of 'Parvati, the heroine, is human enough to be convincing. 

Another recent book by Abbas is Invitation to Immortality, 
an interesting and most enjoyable little play that ought to be a 
success on the stage. Some good fiction has also appeared in 
the form of translationsr I have in mind especially Short Stories 
and Subbwma by Masti Venkatesa iyengar and Best Short Stori- 
es of Modern Bengal, translated by Nilima Devi. Two more 
books of fiction worth reading are Kumara Guru's Life's Sha- 
dows, Volume II, and George Barret's Forty-Three Years : 
Jayant and Tara, the first volume of a projected trilogy whose 
laudable aim is to "produce a very authentic record of the 
life and emotions of * average India ' ". 

One of the unexpected publications of the year & The 
Letters of the Rt. Hon. V. S. Srinivasa Sastri. Everybody 
knows, of course, Sastriar's eminence as a flawless English 
speaker and writer ; but his letters nevertheless come to us as a 
most agreeable surprise. The immaculate liberal statesman 
is a human being after all ; and his letters, to public person- 


ages or to private individuals, to solemn Secretaries of State or 
to intimate members of the family, are alike works of prose 
art 'that reveal the poise, the incorruptible integrity, and the 
utter humanity of the man. The letters are really letters, 
not learned essays on Napoleon or on the constitution of rocks 
or on the Binomial Theorem ; and the letters are also an -ex* 
quisite foot-note to the political history of India during the 
past thirty years. 

Krishna Hutheesing's autobiography, With No Regrets, 
challenges comparison with her brother Jawaharlal's tnore fa- 
mous Autobiography. Her candid^ narrative is interspersed 
with delicate pen-portraits of the various members of her 
family, and her prose^style is clear and easy and natural. It 
is a measure of the popularity of the book that it has already 
appeared in a second edition. 

On the occasion of Gandhiji's recent birthday, the Karna- 
tak Publishing House brought out a sumptuous volume con- 
taining a number of informative and interpretative articles on 
his life and work ; like the similar volume edited by Professor 
Radhakrishnan a few years ago a volume that has recently 
cortie but in a second edition this weighty and fastidiously 
got-up publication also will take a permanent place in Gandhi 
literature. Of other biographical and critical studies, I might 
mention here Sachchidananda Sinha's Some Eminent Bihar 
Contemporaries, Madan Copal's Premchand, Dhurjati Prasad 
Mtikherji's Rabindranath Tagore and Ahmed Ali's Mr. Eliot's 
Petmy World of Dreams. Nor should I omit to make a refer- 
ence to Ahmed Abbas's competent and moving story of the 
Indian medical mission to China, . . .and One did not Come 
Back; it is, incidentally, a fitting tribute to the memory of Dr. 
Kotnis, a memory that belongs "not only to our two great 
nations but also to the noble ranks of the indomitable fighters 
for freedom -and progress of all mankirkT. j 


Books in a lighter vein are rather rare. The war-weary 
but war-ridden world is too much with us, and we have little 
time to smile or to laugh. However, N. G. Jog's Onions and 
Opinions, G. L. Metha's Perversities and Frene Talyarkhan's 
Pardon Me are books that one might read without tears, but 
with very real pleasure. Besides, writers like "Jove" of the 
Social Welfare and R. Bangaruswami of My Magazine are 
giving us regular doses of deliciously satirical or humorous 
stuff, in a language that achieves again and again either a 
pctoiard's edge or a rainbow ^usiveness and whimsicality. Like 
all good satirists, " Jove " TjoseplT John) ITltisbT firetly, an 
artist v with an infallible sense of form, and, secondly, a 
humorist with an infallible sense of the ludicrous. 

As for "serious" studies, their name is legion. Professor 
K>T. Shah's Why Pakistan and why Not? is, like all his 
works, weighty, conscientious and thorough, and is the most 
indispoisable book on this most contentious subject. Cyril 
Slodak's two recent books Marching Millions and India's 
Destiny are brilliantly written tracts for the times ; I fed 
that I am the soberer and wiser for having read them, especi- 
ally Indicts Destiny ; and I should like it to reach the Indian 
masses through competent translations. Like many other 
educated men, Cyril Modak also is a clever man and a learn- 
ed man ; but he is also something that very few other "educ- 
ated" men are he is a wise man who is able to see through 
the dbuds of controversy and sight and reveal to us the splen- 
doroiis moon of India's great destiny. Other challenging re- 
cent "studies are D. Pant's The Varsities, "Cactus's" Give 
Democracy a Chance, M. R. Masani's Socialism Reconsidered 
and 'Humayun Kabir's Muslim Politics, now in its third en- 
larged edition. 

A 'few outstanding works of scholarship also have appear- 
ed in English of late. R. S. Ruidit's efficient translation of 


Mudra-Rakshasa, with a long historical and critical "Post- 
script ", has recently appeared, and gives us cause to regret all 
the more his untimely demise^ Pandit's literary rendering of 
Mudra-Rakshasa is nearly as beautiful as Laurence Binyon's 
Shakuntala and Sri Aurobindo's The Hero and the Nymph. 
Lastly, Radhakumud Mukherji's Chandragupta Maurya, 
Sharma's Studies in the Renaissance of Hinduism in the 19th 
cmd 20th Centuries, K M. Munshi's The Glory that teas 
Gurjaradesha and R. N. Saletore's Life in the Gupta Age are 
among the meritorious historical treatises published in recent 
months. - 


BASU, Lotika, Indian Writers of English Verse (1933). 

The Peacock Lute (1945); 

The Moving Finger (1945). 

CHIDA, A. R., An Anthology of Indo-Anglian Verse (1935) 
COUSINS, James H., The Renaissance in India (1918). 
DUNN, T. O. D., A Bengali Book of English Verse U918). 
GOODWIN, Gwendoline, An Anthology of Modern Indian Poetry 


IYENGAR, K. R. Srinivasa, Inda- Anglian Literature (1943). 
MACNICOL, Margaret, Poems by Indian Women (1923). 
OATEN, E. F., Anglo-Indian Literature (1908K 
SESHADRI, R, Anglo-Indian Poetry (1930). 
SINGH, Bhupal, A Survey of Anglo-Indian Fiction (1934). 
SPEIGHT, E. E., Indian Masters of English (1934). 
WRIGHT, S. Fowler, From Overseas (from 1924 onwards). 
AMRITA, Visions <*n<l Voices (1929). 

Snow Birds (1919) ; 

Sara and Other Poems (1927) ; 

Arctic Swallows (1927). 
BASAWANAL, S. S., and K. R. Srinivasa IYENGAK, Musings of Basava 


BASKER, T., Passing Clouds (1932). 

Silhouettes (1928) ; 

Flute Tunes (1931) ; 

Star Fires (1932) : 

Enchantments (1934) ; 

Horizons (1937) ; 

Footfalls (1937). 
CHATTOPADHYAYA, Harindranath, 

Feast of Youth (1918) ; 


Coloured Garden (1919) ; 

The Perfume of Earth (1922) ; 

Grey Clouds and White Showers (1924) ; . 

Out of the Deep Dark Mould (1924) ; 

Strange Journey (19S6) ; 

The Dark Well (,1939) ; 

Fifteen Dry Points (with Mukul Dey) (1939) ; 

Blood of Stones (1944) ; 
Lyrics (1944). 

CHETTIAR, V. R. M., Lyric Festoom (1943). 

The Temple Tank (1932); 

Gumataraya (1982) ; 

The Triumph of Love (1982) ; 

The Shadow of God (1935). 

Seeking and Other Potms (1925) ; 

Chitor and Other Poems (1928). 
CHOWDARY, Sanjib, 

Songs from the Heights (1938) ; 

Songs from the Depths (1941). 
DATTA, D. C., Christmas 193,5 (1941) ; 

Exegi Monumentum and Lyrics (1941) ; 

Meghaduta in English Verse (1943); 

Mango Blossoms and Ashok Leaves (1944). 
DAVID, Susi P., The Garland (1938). 
DEHQZIO, Henry. Poetical Works (1907). 
DEVI, Nilima, 

Hidden Face (1937) ; 
When the Moon Died (1944). 
DEVI, Sabita, Phantasies (1943). 
DHINGRA, Baldoon, 

Symphony of Peace (1938) ; 

Mountains (1939) ; 

Comes Ever the Dawn (1941). 


The Ivory Tower (1943; 2nd edition, 1945) , 
DUTT, G. C, 

Cherry Stones (188J) ; 


Cherry Blossoms (1887). 

DUTT, Gobindchunder & Others, The Dutt Family Album (1876). 
DUTT, Harchander, Fugitive Pieces (1851) ; 

Lotus Leaves (1871). 

DUTT, Michael Madhusudan, The Captive Ladie (1849). 
DUTT, Roby, 

Echoes from East and Wtfst (1909) ; 

Stories in Blank Verse (1915). 
DUTT, R. C., 

The Mahabharala and the Ramayana (Everyman's Series); 

Lays of Ancient India (1894). 
DUTT, Toru, 

A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields (1876); 

Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan (1882). 
FRiENr>PEREiRA, F. J. % Mind's Mirror (1941). 
FURTADO, Joseph, 

Poems (19Q1) ; 

Lays of Old Goa (1910) ; 

A Goan Fiddler (1927) ; 

The Desterrado (1929) ; 

Songs in Exile (1938). ' 

GHOSE, Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems and Plays (2 volumes, 1942). 
GHOSE, Kashiprosad, The Shair and Other Poems (1830). 
GHOSE, Manmohan, 

Love Songs and Elegies (;1898) ; 

Songs of Love and Death (1926). 
GILBERT, M., Lyrics and Sonnets (1942). 
GUPTA, Nolini Kanta, To the Heights (1944). 
HUSSAIN, A. S. H., Loyal Leaves (1911) ; 

Priceless Pearls (191,1). 
ISVARAN, Manjeri S., 

Saffron and Gold (1932) ; 

Altar of Flowers (1934); 

Catguts (1940) ; 

Brief Orisons (1941). 
JUNG, Nawab Sir Nijamat, 

Sonnets (1918). 

Islamic Poems (1935). 
KABARDAR, A. F., The Silken Tassel (1918). 


KABIR, Humayun, 

Poems (1932) ; Mahatma and Other Poems (1944). 
KABRAJI, Fredon., 

A Swan Song (1945). 

Flower Offerings (193^4) ; 

Songs of a Wanderer (1936) ; 

This Civilization (.1937) ; 

Shanghai (1939) ; 

The Snake in the Moon (1942) ; 

Look on Undaunted (1944). 
KAILASAM, T. P., Lays and Plays (1933). 
KASHYAP, Mohanlal, Rakshabandhan and Other Poems (1941). 
KATHIB, A. L., Whispering Stars (1937). 
KIRTANE, M. D., Maya's Veil (1944). 
KRISHNAMURTI, J., The Immortal Friend (1928). 

Songs and Rose Leaves (1927) ; 

The Lama's Tale (1930) ; 

Love Sonnets and Other Poems (1937). 

The Feast of the Crystal Heart (1928) ; 

Among the Silences (1928) ; 

Awakened Asia (1930); 

The Lay of the Lotus (1939) ; 

Southern Idylls (1939). ' X 

MALABARI, Behramji, The Indian Muse in English Garb (,1877). 
MENEZES, Armando, 

The Fund (1933) ; 

The Emigrant (1933)); 

Chords and Discords (1939); 

Chaos and Dancing Star (1940). 
MODY, Jehangir R. P., 

Golden Harvest (1932) ; 

Golden Gleanings (1933'K 
MUKHERJI, Dhan Gopal Rajani, 

Songs oj the Night ; 

Sandhya, Songs of Twilight. 


NAIDU, Sarojini, 

The Golden Threshold (1905) ; 

The Broken Wing (1912) ; 

The Bird of Tim* (1917). 

Courting the Muse (1879). 

RM, Nagesh Wisihwanath, The Angel of Misfortune (19()4). 
PANIKKAR, K. M., The Waves of Thought (1944). 
PUNJALAL, Lotus Petals (1943). 
RAHAMIN, Fyzee. Man and Other Poems (1944). 
RAO, B. Vasudeva, Of Here and Hereafter (1932). 
RAMRAO, R. V. M. G., No . Name (1943) 
RAMAKRISHNA. T. f Tales of hid (1895). 
RANGACHARYA, I. V., El Tidero (1939). 
RODRIGUES, Manuel C., Homeward (1939). 
ROY, Anilbaran, Songs from the Soul (1939). 
SALETORE, B N., Savitri (1919). 
SARABHAI, Bharati, The Well of the People (1943). 
SASTRI, Diwan Bahadur K. S. Ramaswami, The Light o\ Lije (1938). 
SEAL, Brajendranath, The Quest Eternal (193). 

Sonnets (1914) ; 

Bilhana (1914) , 

Champak Leaves (1923) , 

Vanished Hours (1923). 
SKTHNA, H. D. t Struggling Heights (1944). 

Artist Love (^925) ; 

The Secret Splendour (194,1). 
SHARMA, Ram, Poetical Works (1918). 
SHUNGLOO, Krishan, The Night is Heavy (1943). 
SUHRAWARDY, Shahid, Essays in Verse (19S7). 
TAOORE, Rabindranath, 

Collected Poems and Plays (1937) ; 

The Child (1931) ; 

Poems (1942). 

TAIGORE, Subho, Rubble (1936). 
TALOOKDAR, Byram, Pianissimo (1940). 



Triumph of Delhi (1916) ; 

Krishna's Flute (1919) ; 

Asoka and Other Poems (1922) ; 

Garden of the East (1932). 
VAKIL, Raman, To Euwpa (,1942). 
VENKATARAMANI, K. S., On the Sand-dunes (1923), 


ABBAS, Khwaja Ahamed, Invitation to Immortality (1944> 
ABDULLA, V., (in collaboration), We Accuse-, 

Talk jor Food (1944). 
AYYAR, A. S. P., 

Slave of Ideas and Other Plays (1941) ; 

The Trial of Science jor the Murder of Humanity ( 1943). 
BHATT, Suryadutt, The Trial Celestial (1940). 

Anklet Bells ; 

Samyukta ; 

Mortal Coils. 

BORGAONKAR, D. M., The Image Breakers. 
CHATTDPADHYAYA, Harindranath, Five Plays. 
DHINGRA, Baldoon, The Awakening. 
DUTT, Michael Madhusudan, 

Ratnavali ; 

Is this called Civilization? (1871). 
GHOSE, Sri Aurobindo, 

The Hero and the Nymph (1942) ; 

Perseus the Deliverer (1942). 
IYENGAR, K. R. Srinivasa, 

Suniti & Her Spouse or Storm in 
Tea-cup (1942) ; 

The Battte of the Optional* (1943). 

lYENGAR, V. V. Srinivasla, Dramatic Divertissements (2 volumes). 
JAVERI, Shanti, Deluge (,1944). 

KHAN, Mohd, A. R., Zamvr or Conscience Personified. 
MENEZES, Armando, Caste, a Social Comedy. 
MENEZES, Nicolau J., The Son of Man (1935). 
MUKHERJI, Dhan Gopal, Layla-Majnu. 


NARAYAN, R. K., The Watchman of the Lake (1941). 
RAHAMIN, Fyzee, Daughter of Ind. (1940). 
RAJU, P. V. Ramaswami, Lord Likely (1876). 
SASTRI, Diwan Bahadur K. S. R., Droupadi. 
TAGORE, RaWndranath, 

Chitra (1914) ; 

Sacrifice (1917) ; 

The Post Office (1914) ; 

Red Oleanders (1925) ; 

The Kmg of the Dark Chamber (1914). 


ABBAS, K. Ahmad Tomorrow is Ours (1943). 
ALI, Ahmad, Twilight in Delhi (1940). 
ANAND, Mulk Raj, 

Across the} Black Waters (,1940) ; 

The Coolie ; 

Two Leaves and a Bud ; 

The Untouchable , 

The Village (1939) ; The Big Heart (1945). 
AYYAR, A. S. P., 

Baladitya (1930) ; 

Indian After-Dinner Stories ; 

Three Men of Destiny ; 

S&tse in Sex and Other Stories ; 

Finger of Destiny and Other Stories. 

Tales of Bengal (1910) ; 

Indian Detective Stories (1911). 
CHAKRABARTI, Kshetrabal, 

Sarata and Hingana. 
CHATTERJEE, Bankim Giandra. 

Durgeshnandini (1880) ; 

The Two Rings (1897). 

CHATTERJEE, Santa and Sita, The Garden Creeper. 
CHATTERJEB, Santa, The Eternal 
CHATTERJEE, Sarat Chandra, 

Srikantha ; 

The Ddiverance, Translated by Dilipkumar Roy (1944), 


CHATTERJEE, Sita, The Cage of Gold. 

CHETTUR, G. K., The Chest City and Other Stories (1932). 


Muffled Drums (1927) ; 

The Cobras of Dharmashevi (,1937) ; * - 

Bombay Murder (1940). 
CHINNADURAI, J., Sugirtha. 
CHINTAMANI, V. V., Vedantam. 
DEVI, Raj Lakshmi, 

The Hindu Wife or the Enchanted Fruit (1876). 
Durr, H., Bijoy Chand (1888). 
DUTT, R. C, 

The Lake of Palms (1902). 

The Slave-Girl of Agra (1909). 
FURTADO, Joseph, Golden Goa (1938). 

1001 Nights (1904) ; 

the Prince of Destiny (1909). 
GHOSHAL, Mrs 1 ., An Unfinished Song (19,13) ; 

The Fatal Garland (1915). 
GOUR, Sir Hari Singh, His Only Love (1930). 
GRACIAS, Louis, Wild Winds (1940). 
GUPTA, Dilip and Nilima Devi : Best Stories of Modern Bengal 


GUPTA, Nareshchandra Sen, The Idiot's Wife. 
GURU, Kumara, 

Life's Shadows (1938) ; 

A Daughters Shadow (1944). 

HABIB, Muhammad, The Desecrated Bones and Other Stows (1929). 
ISVARAN, Manjeri. 

The Naked Shingles (194,1). 

Angry Dust (1944). 
IYENGAR, Masti Venkatesla, 

Short Stories (4 volumes, 1943) ; 

Subarma (1943). 

KABIR, Humayun, Men and Rivers (1944). , 

Just Flesh (,1940) ; 


Thtire Lay the City (1941) ; 

We Never Die (1944). 

KRISHNA, Bal, The Love of Kusuma (1910). 
LAHIRI, Kali Krishna, Roshinara (1881). 

Kusikas Stories ; 

Panju ; 

Thillai Govindan. 

MITRA, S. M. Hindupore, a Peep behind the Indian Unrest. 
MUKHERJI, Dhan Gopal, 

The Chief of the Herd ; 

Kari the Elephant \ 

My Brother's Face ; 

Ghond the Hunter ; 

Gay-neck, the Story of a Pigeon. 
NAGARAJAN, S., Athawar House ; Cold Rice ( 1945) . 

Swami and Friends (1985) ; 

Bachelor of Arts (1936) ; 

The Dark Room (1938) ; 

Malgudi Days (1941) ; 

Dodu and Other Stories (1943). 
NOON, Sir Firoz Khan, Scented Dust. 
RAM, Shanker, 

The Children of the Kaveri (1927) ; 

Creatures All (,1931) ; 

The Love of Dust (1938). 
Padmini (1903); 

The Dive /or Death (1912). 
RAO, Raja, \Kanthapura. 

SATYANADAN, Kamala, Detective fanaki (1944). 
SHARAR, Dewan, 

The Gong of Shiva. 

Eastern Tales (1944). 
SETT, Adi K., Chameleons (1928). 
SINGH, Sir Jogendra, 
Kamla ; 

Kamni (.1931).; 


Nasrm ; 

- Nur Jehan (1909). 
SORABJI, Cornelia, 

Love and Lije behind the Purdah (1901) ; 

Sun-Babies (1904) ; 

Between the Twilights (1908). 
SOUSA, Innocent, Radha a Hindu Belle. 
SUBRAMANIAM, A., Indira Devi. 
TAGORE, Rabindranath, 

Hungry Stones and Other Stories (1916) ; 

Mashi and Other Stories (,1918) ; 

The Home and the World (1919) ; 

The Wreck (1921) ; 

Cora (1923) ; 

Broken Ties and Other Stories (1925). 

TRIKANNAD, Ramabai, Victory of Faith and Other Stories (1935). 

Murugan the Tiller (1927); 

Kandan the Patriot (1932) ; 

Jatadharan and Other Stories (1937). 
ALI, Ahmad, Mr. Eliot's Penny World of Dreams (1943). 
ANAND, Mulk Raj, Curries & Other Indian Dishes (1932). 
BANERJI, H. K. Henry Fielding, His Life and Works. 
BANGARUSWAMI, R., My Lord Kukudoon Koon (1945). 
BHATTACHARJI, Mohinimohan, 

Platonic Ideas in Spenser. 

Keats and Spencer (1944). 
CHAIKRAVARTI, Amiya, The Dynasts & the Post-War Age in Poetry 


CHANDAVARKAR, Sir Narayan, Light for Life. 

Art and Swadeshi ; 

Mediaeval Sinhalese Art ; 

The Transformation of Nature in Art ; 

A New Approach to the Vedas 

History of Indian & Indonesian Art (1927) ; 

The Dance of Shiva ; 

An Introduction to Indian Art (1923)/ 


CORREIA-AFONSO, F., Plain Living, and Plain Thinking (1940). 
DAS, Harihar, Life & Letters of Toru Dutt (192,1). 
DHINGRA, Baldoon, Genms and Artistic Temperament ; 

Writ m Sand (1943). 

DONGERKERY, Kamala., Karnatak Miniatures (1945). 
DUTT, K. Iswara, And All That (1931). 
GANGOLY, O. CX, The Earth Goddess in Indian Art (1944). 
CHOSE, Sri Aurobindo, Kalidasa (1929) ; 
The Renaissance in India ; 
The National Value of Art (1936) ; 
Heraclitus (1941) ;' 
Views and Reviews (1941). 
GOPAL, Madan, Premchand (1944). 
GUHA, P. K. Tragic Relief (193). 

GUPTA, Nagendranath, The Place of Man and Other Essays (1931). 
GUPTA, S. C. Sen, The Art of Bernard Shaw. 
HALDAR, Asitkumar, Art and Tradition (194,1). 
IYENGAR, K. R. Srinivasa, 

Lytton Strachey, a Critical Study (1938); 
Literature & Authorship in India (1943) ; 
On Beauty (1945). 
IYENGAR, Masti Venkatesa, 

Popular Culture w Karnataka ; 
Poetry of Valmiki (1940). 
IYBR, P. G. Sahasratiama, Tragi-Comedy hi English & Sanskrit 

Dramatic Literature (1933) ; 
The Description of the Seasons in English & Sanskrit Literature 

JHA, Amarnatha, 

Shakespearian Comedy & Other Studies (1930); 
Literary Studies (1929) ; 
Occasional Essays & Addresses (1942). 
JOG, N. G., Onions and Opinions (J944). 
JOHN, Joseph (Jove), The Gospel of St. Amery (1945). 
JUNG, Nawab Sir Nijamat, 
Morning Thoughts ; 
Casual Reflections (1939). 


KABIR, Humayun, 

Poetry, Monads and Society (1941) ; 

Saratchandra Chatter jee (1942). 

Oh You English ; 

The Pulse of Oxford. 

KHADYE, K. M., Croce's Aesthetic (1922). 
KELKAR, N. C., Pleasures and Privileges of th<* Pen ( 1929) . 
MADAN, I. N., Saratchandra Chatter jee (1945). 
MALABARI, Behramji, 

Gujarat and the Gujaratis (1882) ; 

The Indian Eye on English Life (1893). 

Arts and the Man (1940) ; 

Two Lectures on an Aesthetic of Literature (,1944). 
MEHTA, N. C., 

Studies in Indian Painting (1926) ; 

Gujarati Painting (1931). 

MEHROTRA, K. K., Horace Walpole and the English rtwel. 
MENON, V. K. Krishna, Laughter (1931). 
MbDY, Jehangir R. P., Vondel and Milton (1942). 

Modern Indian Culture (1943); 

Rabindranath Tagore (1943). 

MUNSHI, K. M., Gujarata and its Literature (1933). 
PAI, Nagesti Wishwanath, Stray Sketches in Chakmakpore ( 1894 } . 
PATWARDHAN, W. B., Lectures on the Marat ha Poett. 
PILLAI, V. K. Ayappan, 

Shakespeare Criticism (1932). 
RAO, Rentala Venkata Subba, 

Othello Unveiled (1906) ; 

Hamlet Unveiled (1909). 

Ror, K. B., Keats's Conception of the Poetic Vocation (1944). 
SEAL, Brajendranath, New Essays in Criticism (,1903). 
SEN, Amiyakumar, Studies in Shelley (1936). 
SHAHANI, Ranjee, The Coming of Karuna (1934). 

Shakespeare through Eastern Eyes (1932) ; 

A White Man in Search of God (1943). 


SHANKAR, Bhawani, Studies in Modern English Poetry (1939). 
SIDHANTA, N. K., The Heroic Age in India (1929). 
SUHRAWARDY, Shahid, Prefaces, Essays on An Subjects (1939). 
S. V. V., 

Chaff and Grain ; 

The Holiday Trip ; 

Soap Bubbles ; 

More Soap Bubbles. 

Pardon Me (1944). 
VENKATARAMANI, K. S., Paper Boats (1921); A Day with Sambhu 

WADIA, Sir Bomanji, 

Random Thoughts and Collections (1937). 
YAJNIK, R K., The Indian Theatre (1933). 
ZUBERI, I. H., John Donne (1938). 
AIYANGAR, K. V. Rangaswami, Ancient Indian Polity (1935). 
Au, Ameer, Life of Muhammad. 
ALI, A. Yusuf, 

The Making of India (1925) ; 

India and Europe (1927) ; 

A Cultural History of British Ind*a\ (1940). 
ALVA, J., Men and Supermen of Hindusthan. 
AYYAR, A. S. P., An Indian in Western Europe (1929). 
BAN'NERJEE, Surendranath, A Nation in the Making (1927). 
Boss, Subhas Chandra, 

The Indian Struggle (1935) ; 

Through Congress Eyes (1938). 

CHANDRASEKHARAN, K., Persons and Personalities (1932). 
CHETTUR, G K., The Last Enchantment (193). 
CORREIA-AFONSO, F., The Spirit of Xavi&r (1924). 
DOSABHAI, Framji, The Parsees (1858). 
DUTT, K. Iswara, Sparks and Fumes (.1929) . 
DUTT, Romesh Chundcr, 

A History of Civilization in Ancient India (1890) ; 

Later Hindu Civilization (1890) ; 


Economic History of British India (1902). 

Indian in^ the Victorian Age (1904) ; 
GANDHI, M. K., My Experiments with Truth. 
GUPTA, Chitra, Life ^ Barrister Savarkar (1927). 
HUTHEESING, Krishna, With No Regrets (1943). 
IYENGAR, P. T, Srinivasa, 
Bhoja Raja (1931) ; 

Advanced History of India (.1944). 
IYENCAK, K. R. Srinivasa, 

Life of S. Srinivasa lyengar (1939) ; 

Sri Aurobindo (1945). 
JAYASWAL, K. P., Hindu Polity (1924). 
KANAKASABHAI, V., Tamils 1800 Years Ago (1904). 

I Go West ; 

Out of Dust 

'Chungking Diary. 

KELKAR, N. C., Landmarks in Lokamanyus Life ( 1924 > ~ 
M^SANI, Minoo, Our India. 

MASANI, Sir Rustum, Dadabhai Naoroji (1939). 
MAZUMDAR, A. C.. Indian, National Evolution (1915). 

Leaders of India (1941) ; 

A Trip to Pakistkan (1943). 
MUKHERJI, Radhakumud, 

The Fundamental Unity of India (1914); 

Men and Thought in Ancient India (1924) ; 

Hindu Civilization (1937). 

/ Follow the Mahatma (1940); 

The Glory that was Gurjaradesha (1944). 
NAOROJI, Dadabhai, Povery and Un-British Rule in I'ndiai. 

West of Suez ; 

Lallubhai Samaldas. 
NEHRU, Jawaharlal, 

Glimpses of World History ; 

Letters from a Father to a Daughter ; 


. Autobiography ; 

Eighteen Months in India ; 

Toward Freedom. 

PANDIT, Vijayalakshmi, So I Became a Minister ; Prison Days (1945;. 
PARMANAND, Bhai, The Story of My Life. 
PILLAI, G. Parameswaran, 

Representative Indians : 

London & Paris through Indian Spectacle? (1898). 
RAI, Lala Lajpat, Unhappy India. 
R \NADE, M. G., 

The Rise of the Marat ha Power ( 1900) ; 

Indian Economics (1898) ; 

The Wisdom of a Modern Kishi (Selections: 1942). 
Rjo, Khasa, Men in the Limelight (1941). 
RAO, K. Subba, Rt rived Memories \1933). 
RAY, P. C, Life and Times o) C. R. Das (1927). 
SARKAR, Jadunath, 

History oj AuraHgajib ; 

Shivaji ; 

Chaitanya, his Life & Teachings ; 

India through the Ages (1928). 
SARKAR, Benoy Kumar, The Sociology of Races, Cultures and Human 

Prognss (1941). 
SASTRI, V. S. Srinivasa, Life of Gokhale ; Letters of V. S. Srintvasa 

Sastri (1944). 

Life and Times of Phirozeshah Mehta (1945). 
SAVARKAR, V. D., Hindu Pad Padshahi. 
SHAH, K T., The Splendour that was Ind. (1930). 
SHAHANI, T. K , Copal Krishna Gokhale : 

a Historical Biography (1929 ) . 
SHKIDHARANI. Krishnalal, 

My England, My America ; 

Warning to the West. 

SIDDHIQUI, A. H., Caliphate <fc Kingship in Mtdiaeval Persia. 
SINGH, Iqbal, Gautama Buddha (1937). 
SINHA, Sachchidananda, 

The Stparation of Bihar and the Partition 

of Bengal ; 


Some Eminent Bihar Contemporaries (1943) ; 

Kashmir : the Playground of Asia (1943). 
SITARAMAYYA, Pattabhi, History of the Congress (1935). 
TAGORE, Rabindranath, 

Reminiscences ( 1917 ) . 
TILAK, Bal Gangadhar, Orion (1896) ; 

The Arctic Home of the Vrdas (1903). 

Epic India ; 

The Riddle of the Ramayana. 
WACHA, D. E., 

Life of J. N. Tata ; 

Shells ]wm the Sands of Bombay (1920). 
WAPIA, A. S., 

Krishna (19S4) ; 

Christ ; 

Buddha ; 

Muhammad (1923) ; 

The Belle of Bali ; 

Under the Southern Cross. 
WADIA, P. A , Mahatma Gandhi (1939). 


ALI, Ameer, Ethics of Islam (1922). 

AMBEDKAR, B. R. Thoughts on Pakisthan (2nd Edn.. 1915K 

ANAND, Mulk Raj, Letters on India (1943). 


Vaishnavism, Saivism & Minor Religious 

Systems (1928). 
BOSE, Jagadish Chandra, 

Plant Autographs and Revelations ; 

The Nervous Mechanism of Plants ; 

Response in the Living and Non-living, 
DAS, Bhagwan, 

Hindu Ethics ; 

The Essential Unity of All Religions. 
DASGUPTA, Surendranath, 

Htotfu Mytficism^ (1927) ; 

Indian Idealism (193$). 


DATTA, D. M, The Six Ways of Knowing (1933). 

Hind Swaraj ; 

Guide to Health. 
CHOSE, Sri Aurobindo, 

Essays on the Gita (1928) ; 

The Riddle of This World (1983) ; 

The Mother (,1937) ; 

Bases of Yoga (1941) ; 

The Life Divine (1941). 
GOUR, Hari Singh, The S.pirit of Buddhism. 
GUPTA, Nolini Kanta, 

The Coming Race (1923)).; 

The Malady of the Century (1943); 

The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo (1943). 
HIRIYANNA, M., Outlines of Indian Philosophy (1933). 
IOBAL, Sir Muhammad, 

The Development of Metaphysics in Persia (1909); 

The Reconstruction of ReligiotM Thought in Islam (1934K 
IYENGAR, S. Srinivasfc, 

Law and Law Reform ; 

Problems of Democracy in India (1939) ; 

Stalemate & Reorganization (1940) ; 

Maynes Hindu Law (1939). 
IYER, B R. Rajam, Rambles in Vedanta. 
IYER, C. P. Ramaswami, World Religions (1943). 
JHA, Ganganath, 

Philosophical Discipline (1926) ; 

Sankara Vedanta (1939). 

Life in Freedom ; 

The Kingdom of Happiness. 
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